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.
The sun announces its morning rise into the sky with rays of ripe yellow. The light illuminates the green undergrowth along the floor of the forest. I did not come to the woods to live deliberately. I’m not certain anyone can do that anymore. So much of going to the woods has become an overpopulated trip that requires reservations in order for one to pitch their tent.
So perhaps I have reserved my right to come to the woods and live visitor-ly. Reserved the right to take part in the sacred ritual that has become camping. A ritual overrun by Pinterest ideas for the best camping hacks. A ritual inundated by signage hanging from fifth wheels and tent trailers and motorhomes promoting the idea of relaxing because you’re “camping”.
I biked around the well-preserved woods and caught glimpses of t-shirts that prompt life is better over a campfire, Happy Campers and camping hair, don’t care. When did camping become a culture? Maybe it always has. The move to go west young man, to go see the USA in your Chevrolet or to find your place on the open road…all of it came before kitchy t-shirts declared a person’s sense of self. So perhaps it’s always been a culture.
And I buy into it. I need the culture. I came to the woods in an attempt to breathe a little deeper and turn off some of the world and be wild among the others attempting to be wild themselves.
I came to the woods to be baptized in the chilly lake water.
I came to be purified by campfires made of five dollar bundles of firewood.
I came to drink the sun into my skin through a fine layer of SPF 70.
I came to enrich my spirit through a rented kayak.
The whole time I traipsed through my rented journey I photographed the wonder in order to make sure I remember it happened. (If an experience is had while camping in the forest and no one photographed it and placed it on social media…did it make a noise?)
I impose myself on the throng of life teeming among the pseudo wilderness. I greedily soak up the beauty. I gorge myself on glowing sunlight and the way it plays among the trees and the forest floor. The twitter of birds, the chirping chipmunks, the rummaging of foxes is my personal chorus. I trap the light of the midnight moon in my memory. I gorge my soul on the feast until I am over fed, over loaded, overwhelmed and finally made whole.
Rented or not, I came to the woods to duct tape my soul back in place for as long as it lasts.
When the holiday’s come around, be it Christmas or Birthdays, I get a little put out. Not that it affects the whole day, well, sometimes it does, but sometimes it just turns my guts a bit. Why? Because I miss my family.
My hippie parents instilled such big wings on their children, myself, my brother and my sister that we took to flight and landed so far from where we were raised. One in Italy, one in Denver, and me in my Northwestern corner of the world.
And it’s good we did that. We had courage and strength enough to do that. And there is an added bonus of always having somewhere to go visit. Only, there are holidays and nephew’s baseball games and dance recitals and camping trips and birthdays I miss my damn family.
I read an article a few days ago that finally seemed to capture what it was I felt for the life I live between two places. It comes down to this idea: Idaho is where I live. California is home.
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.
a poetic sky…
April is National Poetry Month. Well, at this point it was national poetry month.
I don’t like poetry. I think I’ve said that before. I don’t understand meter and dactylic hexameter. I don’t get couplets or pentameter. Not to mention stichomythia nor macaronic. Rhyme schemes and stanzas seem such antiquated ideas. Ideas endorsed by cruel English Teachers.
Pastorals and odes and elegies…these are not things of the 21st century. These are relics. Ideas from a time when women and men had naught but wide open space to dream. Where thoughts could stretch and roam.
We’ve run out of space. There is no more area in which we can wander lonely as clouds on snowy evenings.
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
Movie theater. Southside, Chicago, Illinois
I don’t know if I have a favorite movie as an adult.
I mean, I have lots of movies that I like. Several have tickled my fancy, but I don’t know if a movie has really gotten to me as an adult. I wonder if it’s because we don’t have the ability to let go completely and focus as adults. We’re holding so fast to so many worries and things that need to get done that it’s difficult for that suspension of disbelief to take over and for us to really be in the moment.
I remember when I was in the throes of adolescent wonder and movies reached out and grabbed me by the scruff, ignited my imagination, tore my soul asunder and awoke a yearning for bigger and brighter. I remember crying in the darkness of a movie theater, being alive in the theater, laughing until my sides heart. I remember when the worlds that flashed across those golden screen become my very own reality for a few precious moments. 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.