Living · Reading · Writing

The Anti-Blog

I don’t really have anything to say today. I didn’t last week either, so I skipped a week, and I almost never skip weeks, so… you know… I’m here tonight. But I still don’t have anything, really.

What do I have?

I have some free time, having completed the draft of a paper whose deadline I just barely busted. Tuesday night is still “early in the week,” right?

I have some complicated feelings about Independence Day, since I’m grateful to live in a country that allows me to say how disappointed I am in us right now.

Grandma Isla loved dogwood and delicate things.

I have my grandma’s tea cups and her love of quiet, civilized time.

I have a really splendid family, who chose to celebrate our freedom by grilling hotdogs and playing a new board game. My partner got to use his firepit, and the girly made a monster fruit salad.

I have arthritis in my feet. Who knew? So I have some new foods in my diet and am cutting down on others, to do what I can to slow its advance.

I have some fear, but mostly hope for our future as a country and as a planet. I have a well-developed sense of wonder at the beauty of the world and the ingenuity of people who screw it up, but also rally to fix it.  

I have enough stamps that I can pick and choose from a variety of sets and materials and get more use out of them than they’re marketed for. And I have a partner who likes to see me happy, so encourages my hobby rather than complaining that it’s too expensive.

I have “Dirty Little Secret” stuck in my head. It’s my daughter’s fault. It’s on her playlist.

 I have a daughter who plays music while she tidies the kitchen.

I have lots of memories of fireworks and parks and watermelon and parades and my parents from my happy childhood. I have some holes in my heart where people like my parents have taken little bits of me in to the beyond.

I have a stack of academic books to be returned to various libraries, some classes to plan, a letter of recommendation to write, some portfolios to assess, and a fall schedule to tidy up… next week.

And I have a cat walking across my desk, telling me to wrap this up and pet her already.

If you’re still reading, I wish you a wonderful evening, a heart full of hope, and enough of whatever makes you happy.

Lucie is over my non-blog.
Living · Writing

Resolutions 2019: A Writer’s Blocks

I couldn’t think of what to write about this week.

This is a case for steady writing. It works. I took two weeks off because two Mondays in a row were Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and I felt justified, but then I took a third week off just because. I’ll say I was planning on migrating my blog, and that’s true, but it’s also true I was just letting myself slip out of the groove.

I did move the blog. It feels like a good time—New Year’s and all. A time of changes, new directions, new endeavors. But I didn’t write. I just did detail work like going through all my old blog links and making sure they connected here. And now it’s been three weeks… and a day, since I’m moving also from Mondays to Tuesdays. And I have nothing to say.

I do have a wonderful family, who are trying to help me, though. Rob saw my box of Santa figurines waiting to be moved to the garage when the rain stops, and suggested I write about why we have such stupid Santas. (He misread “Int’l Santas” as Int 7 Santas, which in the Dungeons and Dragons world means your Santas have a score of 7 out of 20 in Intelligence). 

My daughter offered up the weirdness of language as a topic, still proud of catching her dad in a raucous pun trap last night. We’ve been taking advantage of the rainy weather to make chili, and while she crushed up saltines in hers, she asked if it weren’t cannibalism. “Not unless you’re a salty cracker,” her dad retorted, then he hung his head and groaned.

But the weirdness of language demands volumes, as does the clever pun-potential of my kooky family. So maybe I just need to tackle the problem head on and generate some topics. I often write about something that happened during the week on my blog, so what has happened of note?

We started a new year, and that always makes me want to make resolutions. Nietzsche regarded resolutions as a criterion for differentiating humans from animals. The idea that we could make a promise to do or be something in the future, make plans and stick to them or not, projecting an abstract view of ourselves in the new, resolved guise, was fundamentally human for him. I know it’s two weeks late, but it’s still January, so I’ll make some resolutions.

I will write more. Blogs, yes, but also fiction and also an article on Beowulf that I should have written years ago. If I boast that we wield words (and I do in my bio, which I reread for the first time in two years—oy), then I’d better do some darned wielding or welding or wending or something.

I will read more. I’m starting to feel like I don’t read as much for pleasure as I used to, and given my newish obsession with non-fiction, particularly non-fiction about reading, I feel like I need to sit and roll around in a novel, but I haven’t really, not even over the longest winter break I’ve had in sixteen years. So yeah—read more.

I will shake up my teaching. I’ve started on that, so will keep moving forward. Semesters are a different pace from quarters, and require some new approaches, so I’m thinking up new assignments, new ways to break up class periods, and new ways to get people involved and engaged.

I think I’ll keep a grateful log. The current state of American politics and policy has me regularly grim-faced, so I will remind myself that as I work to improve things, I should notice many things are still right as rain.

In fact, that reflective impulse is where I’ll stop tonight.  I always think of Janus at the new year, the Roman god of beginnings, transitions, passages, and transformations. He’s two-faced, with one face looking forward, but one also looking backward, reflecting, seeing where we came from and where we’re going at the same time. That seems admirable to me. Not that I want two sets of eyes, but that I  aim not to lose sight of what I’ve learned as I move forward. What I’ve learned tonight is that a steady writing habit makes it easier to write.  I knew this. But I just re-learned it. C’est la vie.

Good luck out there. And may you live up to some of your resolutions, forgive yourself for the ones that slip, and always roll higher than a 7 for intelligence.


This is a House of Stories

Uncle Gerry brought tiny tomatoes to the birthday barbecue. He’s been very well brought up, my mother would say.  He never comes to a meal without an offering.  I didn’t need anything in particular this time, so he surprised us.  When he drew them out of his tote, like Santa plucking toys from his bag, he didn’t give them to me, to put in a salad or set out as crudites.  He presented them to the kids, drawing them close with one arm in to a conspiratorial huddle, and asking them if they believe in The Little People. 

“You mean like gnomes, or like real dwarves?” asked the skeptical teen.  “The tiny people,” said the uncle of Norwegian extraction, “like the faery or the nisse.”
At this point, both kids, the skeptic and the dreamer, stated firmly, “Yes.”
Then he told how he gathered the cherry tomatoes from his garden, where he regularly witnesses acts of magic and wonder.  The tomatoes are tiny—half an inch in diameter for the big ones, and most a little smaller.  They look like fairy fruits. 
The kids started munching, but reverently, plucking the stems gently and looking appreciatively at each fruit before popping them in their mouths like a giant pops pumpkins. 

While they were happily chomping, Uncle Gerry put that arm around me and said, “I knew I couldn’t come in to this house without a story.”