Monday, March 31, 2014

What You’ll Miss


MaMa sends Hollie mail every week.

It’s a kind of devotion that I admire. I used to write to my Nana sporadically. I respond to my cousin’s letters almost immediately. But they’re sporadic, too.

I have a friend who has never failed to send a card for appropriate holidays. Her mom sends them, too. They arrive within days of one another.

I am not that organized.

So my mom’s weekly ritual of filling out the note and folding it into the envelope and dropping it into the mail box is one that demonstrates her devotion to my daughter. And we’re so blessed by that devotion.

As we age, the rituals of our lives together fade.

We used to swim on the summer league team and dad would make us milkshakes before meets.

We used to open one gift every Christmas Eve, it was always new pajamas and always from my Dad’s mom (though we learned later my mom had bought them, wrapped them, and signed Nell’s name).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We Might Be Red Giants



There are a lot of reasons people stay in their own small orbits.

Maybe it’s safer there, surrounded only by objects you know, pulled by the familiar gravity of your own life.
 
Photo courtesy of NASA
Maybe there’s no opportunity to travel. Maybe location or position or conditions keep you grounded.

Nana lived in South Carolina almost her entire life. Granted, it was a much bigger world back then. Before interstates, traveling city-to-city could take days and state-to-state longer than that. International travel was more than unlikely, it was almost unheard of.

Now the world seems smaller. Now the 22 hour flight to Australia sounds painful but do-able. 

When I was in the Philippines, twelve hours ahead on the clock, Charlie called me “Future Girl.”

Even easier is connecting over the internet, where we can feel like we’ve been transported. We can experience culture, language, and perspectives from people who seem far removed from us.

We could feel even more distant. The Far East. Down Under. Across the pond. The Left Coast. Another hemisphere. Another continent. Unknown worlds of wonder and worry.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thank You Notes to My Constellation



Taking a cue from Jimmy Fallon, I’d like for this week’s post, just a few days after commencement, to be my Thank You Notes.

Thank You
Charlie, for putting up with the days I was reading and the days I was writing and all the boring conversations I made you listen to that involved my dissertation. But mostly thank you for believing in me and for being the person I high-fived when I heard those all-too-important words in August.

Thank You
Hollie Russ, for slowing down the dissertation process and forcing me to live in the moment – which is where Nana always said I should try harder to be. I know this journey started before you got here, but I hope you’ll carry with you forever the memories of its conclusion.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway


The snow and ice pounded my hotel window last night. What looks like a winter wonderland actually sounds like an aggressive shudder of cold and misery.


I’m in Maine and this is a Nor’easter, the most violent of the storms in the final throes of winter.


It’s not hard to imagine the depth of desperation a storm such as this could dig. Isolated, stranded, freezing, scared.


But the people here go on about life cheerfully and diligently. They warn us to be careful on the ice and cautious on the roads. They don’t suggest we’ll never leave the hotel, our flights will be canceled, we’ll need an emergency escape plan.

Life here has learned to adapt to the weather. They say spring finally comes in May.  I tell them it was 70 degrees in Columbia yesterday. They just smile.


The storm puts me in mind of home.


My most creative work allows me to stay at home in my jammies, meet the school bus at 3, have dinner made and chores done.

But my most lucrative work requires travel.


This week Charlie and Hollie have had to go about their routine without me to piece their lives together. Without me to fill in the gaps.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

So You Wrote a Novel? What's it about?



When I met Brian, I was in pretty bad shape. We’d just moved across the country, I had no friends, and I had a crush on Christian Slater from Gleaming the Cube.

So I wrote about Brian Listo.

He was a skater and he had a half pipe in a cave on a cliff over the Pacific Ocean, hidden like the canopy bed in Lost Boys.  He had a team, The Crew, and they competed at Ratwall, which was a half-pipe in the sewer system of an undeveloped part of town.

I read Thrasher magazine and wrote about how to skate those half-pipe ramps. I even described hand plants and front-side-ollies.