Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I am a(n)...?

When my kids were younger, one of the things they enjoyed doing was water painting. On nice days, I'd set them up outside with a bucket of water and some cheap, long-handled paint brushes, and they could paint and paint to their hearts' delight all over the sidewalk and the patio. The fact that their creations evaporated within minutes (or seconds, depending on if it was May or August) was part of the fun...it was like magic, and you instantly had a clean slate to work with.

After finishing NaNo early-early Sunday morning, and being in the midst of several holiday projects, I got into one of my reflect-about-my-life funks Sunday night. And so, as I was caught up in all kinds of thoughts, I walked out of my studio to do some laundry and as I did, the corner of my eye caught sight of one of those long-handled paint brushes the kids used so long ago. I picked it up, and with a jar of water, I commenced writing out my thoughts -- most in keyword form -- on the basement's concrete floor. The floor was warm, as the wood stove was burning not too far from where I was, so, just as the August sun did for my kids, so the stove did for my words...allowed them to be for a moment and then wiped them away for me to start again.

I only played at this for a few moments, feeling kind of silly yet enjoying the freedom to write whatever I wanted without any lasting effect. But it was good, cheap therapy because I found the same words kept dancing off the end of my brush...the words that answered the question I kept pondering that night: who am I?

I kept wondering, in the wake of NaNo, am I a writer? Really? I used to be, but am I still? I have nothing to show for it these days other than my blog, my journaling and a lot of unfinished fiction. Do I still qualify?

I kept wondering, amid the scads of stamps, inks, paints, papers, fibers, metals, adhesives and other supplies that surround me everyday, and with my cameras sitting nearby, am I an artist? Really? After all, I could be sitting in a roomful of surgical equipment and that would not make me a surgeon. However, I do enjoy creating -- immensely -- but I am so ready to take that to the next level, to do it with more intention and more purpose, but I am unsure about what that might be. So, does simply sitting here playing with this stuff really qualify me as an artist if I never get any further than I am now?

Honestly, most of the time I'm fine, fine, with myself as I am. These questions do not plague me day in and day out. It's just sometimes...because sometimes I wonder if I'm really living my purpose here in this world, or am I somehow missing the whole point?

Thursday, November 9, 2006

I Remember...

I did this LO in response to the current weekly challenge at 2Peas, the theme of which is "I Remember." (Emily Falconbridge posted it, and she also links to it from her blog.) (This also fits in well with the theme of Love Thursday, which I've not participated in before but I will today since I've got something for it!)

For some reason, as soon as I read the topic of the challenge, a picture and a story came to mind. The weird thing is that they don't actually go together chronologically. The picture is from 1970...I was four. The story in my journaling, however, describes an imaginary game I used to play with myself, and I'm certain I didn't do that until I was significantly older...probably in elementary school some time. Both things had to do with Halloween, though, and this picture is one of my favorite Halloween pictures of me as a kid. (Come to think of it, it is one of the only Halloween pictures of me as a kid!)

My mom has always disliked Halloween in a major way, even as a kid, she's told me. But my mom is also a very good seamstress, and she used to sew a lot of my clothes when I was little (until I got old enough to realize store-bought clothes were far more cool). There were a few years where, despite her disdain for the holiday, she sewed some very detailed costumes for me. One year I was an angel, another year I was a devil, and one year -- the one above -- I was Little Bo Peep. This fluffy, yellow tulle dress was itchy as all get out around my neck, but it sure was cute, wasn't it?

My dad, also a creative type in his own right, was often in charge of props. For Bo Peep, he formed the crook for me out of a long plexi-glass rod. When I was a devil, he fashioned a pitchfork for me out of wood and painted it black. It didn't matter that we lived in the middle of nowhere and I had few places to actually go trick-or-treating. (I can still remember my dad driving me around, in rain, snow and cold, up and down our country road and to various friends' houses around town just so I had the opportunity to say "trick or treat"...and he had some candy to pilch. LOL) I still always had a really nice costume to wear for my preschool party or whatever place I did have to go. (That said, I believe I was actually an angel for two, maybe three years in a row. Mom clearly decided recycling was a good option, even in the early '70s!)

Later on, my costumes got a bit less elaborate, and I don't remember the ones from my later trick-or-treat days very well, the years when I'd go to a friend's house, someone who lived in a real neighborhood and we could walk around, by ourselves, and get candy door-to-door. I know there was a cat in there somewhere...also recycled a few times. But it is those early costumes that hold such fond memories for me. And though I didn't realize it then, they were tangible signs of how much my parents loved me, that they'd go to the trouble to make these costumes and props when they just of easily could have skipped the whole thing.

Love manifested in tulle and plexiglass. How cool is that?

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

My great, great, great...

"He said, I've been to the year 3000.

Not much has changed but they lived under water.

And your great-great-great-granddaughter,

is doing fine." Year 3000, Jonas Brothers

My daughter has discovered Radio Disney in our digital cable line up and has it playing every chance she can. I find it both endearing and a little frightening that she's already interested in listening to popular music. She's only ten, and that seems so young. But I guess I'm comparing her to me, and that isn't fair because I was an only child (no older siblings to benefit from musically or otherwise) and a total dweeb as a kid. I didn't realize there was anything other than AM talk radio (which my parents listened to) until I hit junior high.

Anyway, I don't really have a problem with my daughter's musical interests. Long ago I established my reputation as The Parent Who Will Listen to Just About Anything and May Also Know the Words and Sing Along. (Miraculously, my oldest son didn't seem to mind this, and his friends thought I was cool.) I figured, if nothing else, it was one way I could be in touch with my teenage son, and I think it served me well.So now I get to go through it again, this time with a girl. (The middle son isn't so much into music yet, though he does enjoy my Gaelic Storm CDs...I'm thinking it might be time to try and get him into some Stones or Doors or Zeppelin or something before my husband gets him sucked into country.)

My daughter...she is a tween girl, one who is all into the world of those Disney-esque shows aimed at her demographic, such as "Hannah Montana" (which I have to say I find absolutely hilarious) and "That's So Raven."She's been asking for every Kid's Bop CD on the market for the past few years now, and I dutifully listen to them in the car with her. And sing along. (Then there was the day I was playing a Sheryl Crow CD and she realized that "Soak Up the Sun" was done by someone other than the Kids Bop singers. Too funny.)

In recent weeks, I've come to notice that a version of the song quoted above, "Year 3000" by the Jonas Brothers plays on Radio Disney about once every 18 minutes, or so it seems. It's a catchy little tune, if not the most brain-bending lyrics on earth. But I don't know what it is...whether I should blame it on hormones or what...but every time I hear this song, I get teary. Weird, huh? It's the chorus, wherein the neighbor is telling him (the singer/narrator) that he's been to the year 3000 and, among other things, his (the singer's) great-great-great-granddaughter is doing fine.

Now, realistically speaking...if we're talking about progeny that will be living approximately 1,000 years from now, we'll have to add about thirty more "greats" to that relational title, as the singer's literal great-great-great grand daughter will likely be living sometime around the year 2,136, figuring a new generation approximately every 30 years. But this is a teeny-bopper, boy-band song, so we'll just pass by literal, mathematical accuracy and jump straight on into the emotional and relational implications this song offers us.

Say wha...? It's a BOY BAND...!!

Yes, I know, but hear me out on this....

My first thought upon hearing that line of the song was, "How cool is it that some GUY, who managed to build a time machine in his backyard and went 1,000 years into the future would TAKE THE TIME to look up his neighbor's future relative and then report back on how she's doing?" Pretty cool. I mean, I'd expect a guy to report back on cars and sports and such, but relaying messages? In my experience, not usually their strong suit, regardless of the millenium.

But beyond that, it made me think about my life. Thinking forward...some day, God willing, if Armageddon hasn't yet claimed us all, I will have a great-great-great grand daughter. Or son. That is wild. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around what life will be like in another twenty years, let alone when my kids' kids have great-grandchildren. You know?

But this song makes me wonder if they'll even know about me...will anything of me survive that long? I think of all of the scrapping I do and the pictures I take and the journals I've kept through my life, and how so much of it is for that very purpose...so there is a record of my life, the here and now, for the there and then. Who knows if today's archivally-safe products will really hold out that long, but I want there to be something for those kids that far in the future to read and see and know of me if they're so inclined.

And I have to think they will be curious. Why? Because I'm curious. You see, I own a sword. A Civil War sword that belonged to my great-great-great grandfather. And I have his discharge certificate from the Civil War, dated June 21, 1865. And that's all I have. But I yearn to know so much, much more about him...more than the basic family history I've been able to trace down to more recent generations. I wish I knew him, his life, his experiences. What was his life like in the 19th century? What did he enjoy and what did he do after the war? Or before? What was his favorite thing to do in his spare time, and his favorite meal? Did he have a sense of humor and did he show his wife how much he loved her? Did he go for walks with her and how did he feel when he looked into her eyes?

And while I'm sure he had other things on his mind at the time, I wonder, if at any moment during his days in the 15th Regimen of the Pennsylvania Calvary, if he ever gave any thought at all to his great-great-great-granddaughter who might be wondering about him more than 140 years later?