I’ve been listening a lot to Patton Oswalt lately. He cracks me up and I need the laughter.
He has this bit about how he knows he’s gotten old because he doesn’t hate any music any more. He said, there is music he likes and then there is music he just doesn’t listen to. And that’s where it ends. Then he goes on to say that when he was younger, there was music that he ‘hated’. HATED. He would go on wild rants and raise his blood pressure and talk about who’s selling out and who’s honing their craft and who is bullshit and who’s a genius. Backing up all his claims, of course, with his wonderful Oswalt perceptions.
I was thinking about that this morning and of course one thought began to flow into another. The new whirl of thoughts drifted to my time spent in Colorado. It’s today’s weather that brings on these new thoughts. It’s a cool gray morning, with slow, low clouds. A lot of the trees in the neighborhood have given up their harvest of leaves, others are still working on losing them. I see the light dusting of snow on the mountains beyond my window. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking on a plethora of thoughts lately. The heat, however, has weighed me down and I’m not quite interested in following any of them down the road they are leading me. I’ve been reading Madeleine L’Engle slowly this summer, as if every paragraph is a conversation we’re having over coffee.
In the early morning hours, I’ve been writing. While the earth is cooled a bit and the air outside doesn’t threaten to choke me with its intensity. I wake with the early dawn and write outside as long as I can. I have three stories I’m writing right now, my morning mood dictates where I’ll spend my words.
Sunset photo by Grandpa Sharp
When I started writing, (in seventh grade), I wrote a full length book. That wonderfully rich monstrosity took me almost two years to write. It’s only 100 pages long and was hand written. The pink notebook cover has since come off and the tome is now lovingly held together with a rubber band.
It’s not great, the book. It’s barely good. But I adore every last thing about it.
I started several stories after that, book length stories, though they never made it to book length. I was trying to figure out how to write a book then. Hell I was trying to figure out how to WRITE back then. It didn’t bother me that I wasn’t finishing anything, because I was a writer and that’s what you do. I wrote to figure out how I wrote. Of course, at that time I wasn’t telling anyone that I was attempting to write in the first place.
So, I was at coffee with an artist friend and the conversation bent toward our art, as it usually does when two or more artists are gathered. The conversation moved toward the question of ‘why do this?’ The answer has been several different things for each of us over the years, but one true theme seems to have stuck. There seemed to be one answer we could both agree on: We “art” because we have to.
The Tooth Fairy came to our house for the first time last night. Which made me reminiscent of the time the Tooth Fairy went to my brother’s house for the first time. It’s one of my favorite stories. I’m gonna re-post that little diddy, How Old is The Tooth Fairy, this morning:
The tooth was loose.
This is my brother’s child’s first loose tooth, my nephew. He fell at school and knocked it loose. The idea was to let the tooth fall out by itself but it was just hanging there, and my nephew, 4 ½, couldn’t eat his dinner because the tooth was in the way and was annoying him so the tantrum to get it out began. Continue reading
I was digging in the dirt yesterday. And when I dig in the dirt, I think of my great grandma Annabelle. I wasn’t born and raised in this little corner of the world. I traveled a bit before I got here. But my great-grandmother, she was born and raised in this corner of the world.
January 1940 Annabelle Smith
I didn’t know her very well; I was five when she passed away. But that isn’t the end of someone, is it? Passing away doesn’t erase them from the hearts of their loved ones. Stories continue to be told about her by family and friends. A dinner with family will produce a story of Annabelle’s mischievous ways and how she loved it when someone asked her to pass the butter. She would do so with a twist that sent the receiver’s thumb right into the butter as they tried to take the dish. She’d laugh and laugh at that one.
by Annabelle Smith
She was an instigator of great fun. She was caring and kind. She was hard-working and she loved her garden. So when I finally put down some roots here in Boise and began to show an aptitude for growing things; it was often commented that I had Annabelle’s green thumb.
So when I dig in the dirt, and when my heavy breathing becomes the rhythm in which I shovel, my mind clears and I think about my great grandma digging in this same dirt. Plotting her own garden. Getting excited at the first signs of spring. And there is a connection to the past there. I have a sort of “telephone line through time” (as the Indigo Girls put it so eloquently). Digging in the dirt, I’m lost in a mediation of connection with those that came before me. Continue reading
There are clashes and rumblings. The noise is deafening. The silence is threatening. I feel like I’m trapped on Willy Wonka’s boat, toward the end of the tour. Where violent images flash and scream. When everything the man is crumbles and become shadows of goodness that once might have been. The moment when everything is tilted.
And nothing will ever seem as it was once before.
The disruptive noise taunts; a shadow of arid despair sucks the watery blood from life.
The tornado of vocal destruction swirls and whirls inside my self. Each energy receptive nerve flushes the noise outward. Only to become trapped in a different area of this human’s body. And it builds up. Bubbles up. And I whisper the pondering wonder, are we going mad? Am I going mad?
And the noise grows.
Splashes of paint on canvas, a hurried sculpture or two, some spliced pictures pasted together. A poorly thought out poem. A rushed fictional hand job. The guts of artistic endeavors bleed out. Into the world. Into the void. In an effort to silence the mounting racket.
And I can’t figure out if I’m going mad or if it’s the rest of them or if it’s a little of both and if the madness is part of a symbiotic something and if it matters and if anyone can stop it.
Or should it be split open wide? Should it be ripped open wide? Should containment be wadded up into a ball and thrown in the trash?
We’re are all mad here…worked for the Hatter. A little.
I have been known to bemoan the writing process. Well not all the parts of the process. I love the writing. Sitting in my own space, creating strangeness. Creating characters. Creating extensions of myself. Getting lost in the story. Love it.
Now, the editing. I can deal with that. It’s not always easy. But getting to the editing is the hardest part. Once I begin, I can see the forest a bit more clearly and have a better understanding of what can remain and what most go; all in the name of conflict and story arc and stuff like that.
Outside the scope of sitting down to a pen a paper, a computer…the business side of it…that shit I bemoan.
The New Year seems like it should be a time of year when people can slow down and take stock. This year, it seems like there is no slowing. The world continues to erode before our eyes and instead of finding a sense of peace, the need to fight and rage is a bag that must be carried over from that bitch of 2016.
But this is 2017. It’s a new year and I aim to treat it as such. Even if it’s for the space of one breath.
I realize it isn’t fruitful to don a complete Pollyanna vibe; by putting blinders on and cross my fingers and just hope things don’t get too bad. But I can’t live a life filled with worry. It does shitty things for my sleep and taking care of myself and my family. So I continue to try for a fine balance.
There are some awesome people out there offering up great ideas on how to cope. I could list them, but honestly, I’m not in the mood for that today. My favorite bit of advice to date, however, comes from Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds. He suggested as writers, we “write…despite”. No matter what.
It’s simple, elegant, and helpful for my state of mind lately.
However, one thing was business as usual in my little corner of the world. Sunday, January 1, 2017 seemed like a great day to go jump in a lake!
Last year, I braved the cold weather in a bathing suit and joined a handful of folks as crazy as myself as we immersed ourselves in the cold waters of Lucky Peak Lake.
This year, I signed up to take place in the 14th annual, Great Polar Bear Challenge.