Archive for February, 2010

My Truth

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?  The world would split open.

-Muriel Rukeseyer

I am a feminist.

This is not something my grandmother would have said, not something my mother would ever say, and I doubt they would be pleased to hear the words from me.

And yet, it is their gift to me.

My grandmother was a young woman in West Texas during World War II.  She and her sisters put their willing hands and strong backs to the work that needed to be done, and kept the family farm afloat while their brothers were away.    She fell in love with a young soldier who was shipping out soon to Guam, and they decided, together, not to marry until the war was over and he was safely returned.  They both knew far too many young widows struggling to feed their fatherless children.

The world of my grandmother’s youth was opening a door for women.  They went to work in droves, filling positions men had left empty, in factory and field, doing what they had known they could do all along.  My grandmother stood on the threshold and took one joyous step.

It was all the world allowed her.  The war ended, the men came home, the women were sent back to the kitchens and nurseries.

The frustration of having that hope stripped away, of seeing that new world split apart like the firewood she had chopped in her brothers’ absence, thrown back into the embers of the hearth, shaped my grandmother in ways on which I can only speculate.  She never told me any of this.  I wish she had, but the Fates cut her thread before I was ready to hear and understand.

She had great hopes for her daughter.  She launched her into the world, pushed her out of the nest.  But my mother had grown up a mouse of a middle child, bookended by two boisterous brothers with overwhelming personalities.  She never seems to have found her way.  After one semester in college, she married, and though she tried to continue with school it took only the disapproval of one backwards professor, who sneered at her that women could have an education or a family, but certainly not both, to discourage her.

A delicate flower, my mother today wilts in the shadow of the prevailing opinion of the strong-willed men around her, and it is only when we are alone with my sisters that I can coax her into blooming, a tame little root-bound rose.

Our freedom is new.  It is easy to forget that, since the overt oppression seems sometimes like such ancient history.  We are the first generation to really get to spread our wings; the first grand migration following the path of a sisterhood of trailblazers.  We are the first generation of women in millennia who have grown up believing on a grand scale that we could be who we want to be, that we are not less than, that we can walk our own path.

I am a feminist.  This is the gift my mother and grandmother gave me, and it is the gift I hope to give to my nieces, my young friends, my daughters from another womb.  I am not ashamed to say it, as if it were a dirty word.  I am not going to pretend that society didn’t force my mother, my grandmother, and countless mothers before them whom I never knew, into roles that were little better than the yoke on a team of oxen.

And it is my dearest hope that one day, among that next generation, there might be even one who will have the opportunity to look at my situation from a higher plateau of freedom than I now enjoy, learn from those things I am unable or afraid to do, and spread her wings wider still.

-Janet

Time Flees Irretrievably

“Each thing I do, I rush through so I can do something else.” – Stephen Dobyns

I never knew, until just now when I looked it up for this blog, who had written a phrase I have muttered countless times.  I feel the truth of this phrase more and more of late.  There is a constant barrage of things that must be done.  Things that stand up and scream for your attention.  Things that, no matter how much you would dearly like to ignore them, you know you cannot.

Were it just me in my life I would be the only one to suffer for lack of clean undergarments.  Alas, I have two people who look to me for just such things.  These things and oh so much more.  Two people.  Who let this happen?  Wasn’t I supposed to be the old spinster with copious amounts of cats?  That was the plan in high school as far as I can recall.  Yet here I sit.  A wife.  A mother.

No, I was not your typical little girl planning out her wedding in detail from a young idealistic age.  I did not pine for motherhood.  Yet these are stations in life I could not do without.  To lose either would be to lose large parts of my heart and soul.  To leave gaping wounds in my very being.

Important as these roles have become, I nevertheless find myself rushing through the everyday realities of them.  To what purpose?  Hurry up and get dinner done to hurry up and get a bath to hurry up and get in Pjs to hurry up and get in bed to hurry up and go to sleep to hurry up and get to work to hurry up… Time flies.  Such a cliched phrase never appeared more true.  I’ll be with the only man I’ve ever loved for 10 years this anniversary.  My daughter will be 4 in mere months.  I was impatient for her to crawl, to walk, to talk, to learn her letters, her numbers… what’s the rush?  There is no race.  Slow down, I tell myself.  Enjoy her!  Be silly with her!  Structure will come, as will knowledge, but she won’t want to build tents out of blankets and sleep under your desk while you work forever!  And still I turn her away, because Mommy has to work.  Mommy always seems to have something else that wants her attention.

Do I have a purpose or a point?  No, not particularly.  These phrases chase themselves around my head and so I decided to put them down on “paper” so that maybe they would give me some peace.  Maybe it’s to show myself how important it really is, that even though she is in the house with me all day, she still needs the quality time of my focus and attention for things other than bad behavior.  Maybe it’s just to appreciate mundane things like everyday meals and goodness forbid laundry.  Create quality time where before was a mad dash for the next task.

I have a cross stitch that hangs in my daughters room.  It was made by my great grandmother and was given to my mother when I was born.  It too contains a phrase that rises up now and again to catch my eye.  I hope I learn to heed it before it’s too late.

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’till tomorrow,
for babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobweb – dust, go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep!

-Shawna

Kowalewicz!

Some or you may or may not know this about me, but Music is my life. I’ve been playing music since I was still learning my ABC’s and I actually went to University to study music. I guess given that little bit of information, it should seem not that strange that I turn to music to inspire and help me write.

When I listen to music, after i’ve finished listening to the words, and the actual music, I think about how this song could be used to describe a situation I’ve been in, or one I can come up with in my head.

As I said in my last post, my story is based on a repetitive dream that I was having, but during it, the people weren’t clear. What I mean by that is, I couldn’t say “Oh Female role A actually looked like dah dah dah dah dah” or “Male role B” etc, you get my point. It wasn’t until I decided to write it down, I had to think “hang on, what did they look like” and without a moment to spare the image popped in my head. I’m sure it was probably just my own sneaky way of living vicariously through my character, being with someone who looks like a singer I’ve loved since… 2003?

I happened to, while writing, click one of the many film clips I have by this band on my computer and literally didn’t move while I watched it. While the images of the film clip flashed in front of my face, inside my mind all I could see was my two characters forming. Though I’m sure my “look” for a perfect guy isn’t the same as everyone else, it is fun to daydream successfully about him, no?

I find that listening to music actually brings up new ideas in my writing, or even gives me something to get to. For example, I heard a song the other day at work that was more of a pop/dance track (so not my normal type of music) about how he was watching her and admiring her from afar, but knew that he could get her. Given what I said about what I do with music, it gave me the idea to put a scene where he would see her dance, possibly out with her friends, so on and so forth – so it gave me somewhere to lead the story, I knew where one particular section had to get it, all I had to do now was work out how?!

Weird, or Un-weird as it may sound, my iTunes is actually split up into play-lists depending on what I’m doing. I have the playlist for my main “story” then another for this off-story I write when I get writer’s block with the first one… That’s probably silly, but it works so shh!

I’m curious how many of you use Music as a help, idea, support, or just need the noise in the background while you do your writing.

I know this is a short post, but I just wanted to talk about that for some unknown reason. Enjoy the film clip that brought my story to life :)

PS: I’m going to Marry the lead singer some day , you watch!

http://www.youtube.c…h?v=QPabKxzcy6o

-Anna

Hurdles Through Quicksand

Waking up, day in and day, out… as my eyes open upon what light shines on or though, my mind mentally jots down ideas. Driving home and surveying how the moonlight shines on God’s green earth or the creation of human technology, my eyes take note. However, when i sit in front of a blank canvas, my mental notes start caving in.

Not enough time, need to process more other important work….

Sitting there with the paintbrush in hand, the smell of turpentine surrounding me, i become numb. Is this what writer’s block is but from a different artistic angle? Is it, maybe my insecurities are taking the best of my judgment?

Everything surrounding my conscience can’t seem to put it down on canvas! Damn you Lee! Damn you Silvestri! Damn you Adams! It’s not their fault, it’s my own.

Sitting again in front of the canvas, i start imagining all the endless possibilities. All the countless colors or non colors that can be shared within each other. The abstracts can take outside the canvas and maybe through a lens. Yes a lens!

The lens captures everything in an instant and can be used whenever the mind forgets. But sometimes, the mind considers that cheating.

The right hand for stroking the paint across the stretch cloth. The smudging of blacks and whites to emphasis depth and perception. No, paint.. paint… !! The smell of triumph. The countless inner criticisms. The countless inner errors only the eyes will pick up. Those damn imperfections! … NO! The good ole saying .. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” … Continues pushing the camel fine hair across the smell of canvas… the reds, yellows, blues… turning into oranges and greens… all blending together. Yes, this has to be the accomplishment!

And maybe at the end of the inner battle, a Rembrandt could be created.

-Vin

Blah de Blah Blah

One of my biggest problems I seem to stumble across day in and day out is having absolutely NO idea what i’m doing. In all honesty, I woke up one day and said “You know what, I feel like writing down all these stupid scenarios that keep playing in my head, and that damn pesky dream that keeps showing up every night”.

I never really thought much about writing, till I got into reading, which didn’t really start till I was long out of school. I guess I never came across the right TYPE of book, but when I found it – I was hooked.

Though I don’t ever curse the day I started reading, I do frown at myself and wonder why I never bothered to write, even if it was bad, earlier. I’ve always been able to sit there and make up a story in my head, then giggle at it, sometimes jot it down to tell a friend about the weird dream, or daydream I had, though the actual writing down… just never seemed to happen!

I sometimes think that maybe I should go and take a class or two, push me in the right direction, but then I think “Stuff it! If this will ever happen, it’ll be because I have the ability, not because someone managed to teach me” (Though that is just me, I’m not trying to offend anyone who does take courses, or has been to them and found them useful – my mind is just weird).

Anyway, I’ll stop talking about that and move right along.

The idea for my first story that i’ve been tackling head on was brought on by this really short recurring dream I kept having. By the forth day of the exact same dream I decided to write it down, just incase it never happened again and i’d lose it. I was becoming quite fond of it. I woke up, walked straight to my computer and began to write. The next few nights the dream seemed to start as usual, but then add more, and more, even replay different parts and then change them giving me a different ending to a scenario. Since then I haven’t had anymore dreams about it, but I no longer need them to keep the story going. I knew them like they were actually a part of me, and when I speak to the few people i’ve shared my story with, I refer to them as people, not just characters. (Is that weird? Lol)

This post is really boring… I apologize! I will try to make an entry (boring or not) frequently and if anyone is interested i’ll talk about the story… if not i’ll just complain about how I have no idea what i’m doing! ha!

– Anna

Interference

I sometimes wonder if the only way I’ll ever be able to finish a writing project would be to maroon myself on Gilligan’s Isle, with nothing more than a pencil and a pad of paper.

You know those moments. You’re in the shower, soaping away and singing at the top of your lungs, “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall! Oh-whoa, ninety-nine bottle of beer! You, yes you, ta-yake one down, pass it around, ninety-eight…” Suddenly, you trail off, an idea forming in your mind. That awful scene you have been stumped about for ages plays about before you. You picture your characters in a whole new light. What if Janice killed Roger Rabbit? It would all make sense!

Flinging the shower curtain aside, you make your way to the computer, tripping over the dog in front of the doorway. But, he matters not- you are on a mission! You have finally figured your characters out and can move ahead in your story! You grab your furry bathrobe from the desk chair and sit down. You can hardly wait to get typing! This scene has had you stumped for months!

You giggle to yourself as your Word Processor loads. Everything is finally going to work out. Your story loads with ease and you scroll down to begin. Just as your fingers hit the keys, you hear a knock at the door. “A momentary delay!” You think to yourself.

“Mommy?” Your youngest child asks, rosy cheeks aglow. You turn to answer, your smile sagging somewhat as you notice what appears to be four packs of chewed bubble gum sticking out of her hair.

Before you can process the horror, a crash emits from the other room. Ah, it appear your other two darlings have awoken. You shoot a quick, longing glance at the computer screen and head for the living room… and just that simply, what started as a perfectly good writing session, ended without a word being typed.

Book those plane tickets! Gilligan’s Isle, here we come!

-Sara