Sunday, February 27, 2011

Art and Writing

My sister in law is an artist, actually both of my husband's sisters are, but one of them has started a pottery business and has been working to find her rhythm on the wheel. As she has progressed, she has posted pictures of her work, amazing little bowls and cups. The other day she made ceramic buttons. Buttons! It is stunning to me that someone can plop a bit of mud on a spinning surface and create something really special - seemingly out of thin air.

Recently, as I was poking around graduate writing programs I finally made the connection that MFA stands for Master of Fine Arts. Fine Arts as in artist. Until now, it never occurred to me that writing could be art. Or more specifically that my writing could be art. Creative yes, but not art art. Maybe because almost as soon as you dip your toes into fiction there is the whispered hope of publishing, and publishing is business. Publishing is not art.

My sister-in-law also paints and draws and does amazing things with collage. She has a Masters degree in art education. She is clearly an artist. My husband's other sister is starting to design clothing. She has a few prototypes and eventually hopes to sell them. A few years back she made me an amazing leather clutch out of completely recycled materials. Not crafty cutesie amazing, Anthropologie amazing. She is an artist. In my mind, artists make things. Things you can touch.

But me?

Yet, like my sister-in-law at the potter's wheel, I am finding my rhythm, my voice. I am trying things out, things that crumble or crack and don't always turn out the way I intended. I make things too, but you can't put your hands on them. I would like to embrace writing as art. Just art. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. It feels free to me, somehow, to think of it that way.

So here are a few lines I've written, my art. If you'd like, you can touch your screen, right where the words are, as you read them.

From Desert:

When it finally happened, she had been outside, dozing on a chair by the pool. She had woken to find herself pouring down through the slats of the lounge onto the cool cement. As the evening sky broke overhead she felt the joy of being utterly free. She would never again be whole, but there was an abundance of her now, thousands of glassy little fragments.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Confessions of the reluctant housewife

Though I seem to grumble about it quite often here are a few things I love about the housewife thing:

1. A fully stocked fridge. You know, where the yucky leftovers are gone, the containers are all clean and pristine and ready for leftovers, and there are plenty of options for dinner. Never happened when I had my business.

2. Getting the firsthand dirt when the kids get out of school - 99% complaining, but then there is the occasional best day ever.

3. Nobody runs out of clean undies. Sadly, also not the case when I had the business. Yelling out just wear them again? Yep, it stings a little.

4. Ditto for the clean sheets.

5. I know where everything in my house is. Granted, it is because I spend way to much time here, but then again - you need some tape? 2007 tax records? Easter basket grass?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Say cheese!

Looking back on some of what I have written on this blog. Publicly. Oy. It feels a little like those embarrassing diary entries from eighth grade. But then again, that is the whole point then isn't?

So you can cringe on my behalf and save yourself the trouble of it all.

Like I am showing up here in some eighties sweater with a kitten on it and you had that same sweater, but luckily no photos of you actually wearing it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I see the Stop Sign, but where is the Go Sign?

You know that thing when you are thinking about something so much that you start to see signs of it everywhere? And you can't tell if it is just because you're thinking of it or if there is some deep meaning behind it all? I'm doing that.

I've been at a crossroads with my writing, my future goals, back to school or not, freelance or not, finish a novel or give up, go back to corporate work or work for myself. All the possibilities are out there but I can't seem to shove myself towards any of it.

So I have been thinking about the pursuit of writing a good bit lately. In many ways it feels like a new thing and somewhat self-indulgent. Who I am to want to be a writer? Then I remembered something that happened my freshman year of college. I turned in the first essay for my AP English Lit class and was very nervous about it. The instructor was quirky and intimidating and actually English, which made her an absolute authority in my mind. The day she passed the graded essays back, she walked around the class handing them out with a comment for each person. She'd stop at each desk, drop the paper, and then say something about it. Out loud. She handed out all of the papers except for mine. I was horrified. I was sure that my essay was so bad that she was going to wait until after class to pull me aside and tell me to drop the class, that I didn't belong in a college level honors program.

Instead, she placed my paper on the overhead projector.
And proceeded to read it out loud to the class.
As an example of how to write an essay.

Yesterday, Girlie came bursting in from school saying that it was the best day ever. She was excited about a story she'd written for an open writing prompt. Then she told me about an open response essay she'd written to practice for the upcoming statewide achievement tests. Her teacher had shown her essay to the class as an example of how to do it.

So I don't think it is a sign, really. I don't believe in that stuff. The universe is too busy to give a crap about whether I figure this out, I have to do that for myself. And the thing that happened to Girlie happened to her, not me.

I had the chance back then to follow what I was passionate about. I choose business because it seemed safer. Because people were making good money in information technology coming right out of college. Because there were good internships and I didn't want to depend on my parents financially. Because my then boyfriend, now husband, was in engineering school and working with computers made me feel smarter, more like him. Because I cared about what other people thought. Because I needed a straight path to achievement.

But when Girlie told me the story I thought maybe she'll be a writer. As in, maybe she'll actually get to do it. And a felt a horrible pang for myself, that sad feeling you get over the loss of something important, which was strange, because I haven't given up on it yet. But then maybe I haven't fully committed to it either.

All the stop signs in the world, and bam, just like that, there was my go sign. Now I just need to stay focused on it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steampunk and staring down the barrel of forty

A few weeks ago, Hubs turned thirty-nine. No biggie, except that means I'm next. And next year he'll turn forty. And then so will I.

Holy Crap.

I don't know where I was poking around, but I came across the term steampunk and had no idea what it was. So, of course, I googled it. And then I still had no idea. So I poked around some more. And now, I think I kind of get it. Kind of.

But alas, I am at the age where I have to look up stuff mentioned on hipster websites. To be entirely fair, I wouldn't say I've ever been cutting edge. But I had heard of stuff. I didn't always know about it, but I knew of it.

Now I know of nothing.

Turns out, steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk, though steampunk tends to be less dystopian. So it is, unlikely, even in my younger days, that I would have known about this. And maybe, I wouldn't have known of it either.

Either way, I am now too old to be sure.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Romance for four?

Nothing more romantic than meatloaf with the kids on Valentines Day. Actually, there are probably a thousand things more romantic, and yet, here we are.

Meatloaf. With the kids. On Valentine's Day.

I make a pretty badass meatloaf. Not your mother's meatloaf. But, still. Hubs has to head out of town tomorrow and we didn't have a sitter, so this is where we are right now. If this were one of those happy feel-y mommy blogs, next would be the part where I tell you that there is no place I'd rather be.

Sorry folks. I'd rather be out eating sushi alone with my husband.

Hubs did save the day with a nice stash of Lush bath products, so I'll be sneaking off to the tub after the kiddos are tucked in. Who knows? Maybe he'll come and hang out with me and afterwards my skin will be soft and my hair will be clean and I'll smell yummy.

We might be able to save this day yet.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blah blah blah...

I posted a grumble about the weather on facebook and one of my pals mentioned that at least my sarcasm kept me warm. It's true. While I don't consider myself to be a negative person, I can't resist adding a little snark to my daily commentary.

In that vein, here are a few things that have annoyed me this week:

1. The cost of razor replacements. Seriously $2.50 each? I plunked down $30 for a 12 pack because it saves me $6. And no good alternative. Should I just go native?

2. Ditto for ink jet cartridges. I am positive that the amount of ink has been drastically reduced and that it will some day get to the point that I can only print a single page per cartridge.

3. Dirty snow.

4. Trader Joes running out of Pita Chips. Yep, big snow storm and everyone ransacks the snacks. Also missing from the shelves: Blue corn chips, chocolate chips... hmmm I see a pattern here.

5. The end of my box of sale wine. No, I don't mean box as in one of those boxed wines in the gallon container. I am referring to the case of seriously discounted cabernet that I picked up in November. It's gone. Back to full price. Sniff.

Ahhh, I feel warm and toasty already.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A little counting game...

As we drove Little Guy to preschool today (Woo hoo no snow, no sickness, wait, okay I just knocked on wood, dang did I really have to write that? Moving along, nothing to see here.) Girlie asked if they would be in the same school when Little Guy starts kindergarten, so I started doing the math and here's how it goes:

Little Guy kindergarten - Girlie 5th grade = same school
Little Guy 1st grade - Girlie 6th grade = different school
Little Guy 2nd grade - Girlie 7th grade = different school
Little Guy 3rd grade - Girlie 8th grade = different school
Little Guy 4th grade - Girlie 9th grade = different school
Little Guy 5th grade - Girlie 10th grade = different school
Little Guy 6th grade - Girlie 11th grade = different school
Little Guy 7th grade - Girlie 12th grade = different school
Little Guy 8th grade - Girlie (omg breathe breathe) college

So my children will never be in the same school after the first year. And my youngest won't even be in high school when my oldest starts college. And at some point, for five entire years, we'll just have Little Guy at home.

On the plus side, we'll only have to pay for college for one kid at a time. On the downside, we'll be doing it for 8 - 10 years.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


My writing class assignment this week is to write a transformation story, so I am writing a short story called Desert about a woman turning into sand. She feels isolated and alone and in the end is very happy to become sand. Happy stuff.

I've had the desert on my mind a great deal lately. As I peek (or should I say torture myself) at the the weather reports from Phoenix, warm and sunny for days on end, I am so amazed at the contrast in my life between this year and last. For the most part, I am okay with the winter weather, but wow, what a winter this is turning out to be.

Boston so buried in snow that it is hard to get around. The streets are narrow, the parking lots crowded with plowed snow. We've been chipping away at the sheets of ice constantly forming over the steps outside of our front door. On one side of our front yard, the snow bank collapsed into the sidewalk so the pile is more than five feet tall, and will now be that way until late March.

It could be isolating - desert like - to be stranded in all of this, but my friends here are a hearty bunch of gals. They throw on snow boots and bring over wine late at night. They drive across town, even in the "wintery mix" (two words I have come to dislike more than the term nor'easter), to have coffee. They know when I am alone and make sure that I am not.

So it turns out that the woman turning to sand is not me. And what I am writing is fiction.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Being at home can bust up the marriage, let's discuss

Take a peek at this article from last fall's Bostonia, I found it while foraging the recycle bin at the library for magazines, so I am a little late in getting to it.

The article references a study which finds that marriages between couples where both partners work outside the home have a lower divorce rate. This is a reverse in trend from the 60 - 80's when the opposite was true (the break-up of the family being one of the main arguments anti-feminists used against women working outside the home).

I haven't read the full text of the study, though I plan to. This is obviously a complex issue for me personally and what I have read so far has me doing some serious thinking. There are many days when I can tell that my presence at home is good for the kids. I can't say that I can find as many days when being at home is good for me too, and possibly, according to the math, good for my marriage either.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Think warm thoughts

It is already snowing buckets again. Six to eight inches today and another twelve expected tomorrow. Yes, Hubs is out of town, but then you already knew that right?

Don't know if this is the power of positive thinking or not, but today after a harrowing trip to Trader Joes for tater tots and brownie mix (two essentials for being snowed in with the kiddos), Little Guy came in and immediately stripped off his pants in favor of shark swim trunks.

I'm feelin' it.