grown ups are like that....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Conch


For a friend who is having a hard time loving her body today ....

Sometimes we are like conch shells. We see only our bumps and sharp edges, the rough surface. We feel these "imperfections" and think of ourselves as weak, ugly, wrong. Unlovable.

But if you pick up a conch and look at, hold it in your hand and really study it, you'll notice that it has a lovely symmetry and a beauty unique among the other shells of the sea.

It has been tossed and churned in rough seas yet remains strong and resilient.

Inside the conch there is a perfect satin-smooth pink sheen that will whisper the secrets of the ocean into your ear.

You are beautiful. xoxo


Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's in a Name?

When I was pregnant with my second child I would wander the cemetery looking for baby names. My husband and I already had a boy's name picked out, but a girl's name still eluded us. So I would wander up to the unkempt and lonely cemetery a few blocks from our house. It was always empty, and I liked that I could stand in front of the graves of long dead women and pronounce their names aloud without being observed. I felt like I was actually chewing on the words, tasting them in big, noisy gulps.



Pearl- I liked this one, and I came back to it often. It felt smooth and concise and rolled easily between gums and teeth and cheek. Yet it was also a bit cold, and I ultimately spit it out.

Sabrah had an edge to it, but I liked it. It felt strong, and I pictured a long legged wild-child of a girl fighting with me at every turn. I tossed it out like an apple with a bruise on its shoulder.

Llewlla simple had too many L's for its own good.

Addie was sweet but lacked any crunch, so that was set aside, too.

Finally we settled on a name that I never saw on any grave and that we thought was simple and lovely and perfect: August Rose.

Then we had a boy.

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We wander that cemetery as a family now. We do simple grave rubbings, pick black raspberries from along the fence, and just sit and watch the clouds roll by. My children are not afraid of those who rest there, and we almost feel as if this is "our" cemetery now.

My kids, too, have become interested in the unusual names that can be found on the crumbling gravestones. My daughter always brings a notebook with her on our visits and has lists and lists of names carefully copied from the stones or grave rubbings. What was it like, we think, to walk around wearing Eleazar, Waterman, or Oneida as a name? Did the name feel heavy like their layers of Victorian clothing? Or did it fit as comfortably and easily as one of today's common names (Jennifer, Hayden, Hunter)?

Some of the most intriguing names keep us talking long after we've returned home and brushed the fall leaves off of our coats and had our tea or hot cider . . .

Wealthy Payne--Was this a hope her parents set on her shoulders at birth? Or was she the little gift that made them feel like rich and and lucky parents?

Silence Babcock-- Did her parents truly prize this virtue? Did she end up being a quiet child, or did she rebel against her name and become raving and loud, shouting to the heavens?

Azubah Carpenter--Was this an ancient name from the bible? Or a family name from a time long before his birth?
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Halloween is coming up, and like many people I will take this time to think of those who have passed on from my life. Because of distance I cannot visit my father's grave or the graves of my grandparents or my friends. Instead I will gather the children, and we will walk to our little cemetery and honor, in our way, those who rest there. We will stand in front of the graves and say the names of the dead out loud releasing them into the air like ether.





Monday, October 3, 2011

Birthday


She was between houses.

One was sold and the other not yet ready to occupy. But she had friends and family who opened their arms to her and her husband as she waited for their first born to arrive.

During a routine visit to the obstetrician she announced that her baby would enter the world on Monday October 15, 1973.

"No, you have plenty of time, and I have a golf game," said the doctor.

But she was wise and words are powerful, and Sunday her water broke.

She labored with no food or drink and confined to a bed.

Early Monday morning they separated husband and wife, and she gave birth to a baby daughter that did not cry.

Her husband brought her roses and a box of candy so large that she shared her sweet gift with the nurses.

More than a week later she left the hospital with her Monday's child in her arms and her love by her side.

They stayed, for a time, with her mother. She needed mothering herself, and the house was not yet ready.

When it was time to go the three of them moved to their house near Pike's Peak. The mountain watched as the little family made the bare bones of the new house a home.






Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Tender Years

A couple of dear friends came over last night, and we talked at length about our memories of kindergarten. What we remembered from those early years varied considerably. While my husband could remember many small details (the color of the walls, the assorted toys, etc.) another friend had no memories whatsoever.

I remember quite a bit of that year. A few particular memories stand out.

1.

I won a small glass giraffe as a prize at school. It has a rainbow swirl of colors twisting through its body, and I am instantly in love with it. Days later I drop the little animal behind the dresser in my room. I reach my tiny arm under the piece of furniture, but I cannot grasp it. I strain and struggle, yet I simply cannot will my arm to stretch any further. I can see the giraffe tilted on its side just beyond my fingers. Its rainbow colors are muted and dull in the dark space under the dresser, and it feels as if my heart is about to break.

2.

I'm sitting in the classroom, crying, in the arms of my teacher. The rest of the students are outside at recess, and I can see them through the open back door of the classroom. The teacher is soothing me, trying to help me stop crying. What she doesn't understand is that I cannot help it. I simply do not know how to stop. The anxiety and sadness I feel has no explanation, thus it has no cure. I am a despondent little thing, and the tears flow freely.

3.

Everyone in the class is settled down for nap time. No one sleeps, though. We are a group of squiggly, wiggly, giggly worms. But we try. We really do, because if you are quiet and still and good the teacher may tap you gently on the shoulder. This muted signal lets you know that you are chosen to play in the toy kitchen. I am desperate to be picked, because I want so badly to play with the little plastic eggs in the tiny ice box. They nestle sweetly in a plastic carton and when you "crack" one open a perfect yellow center is revealed. I need to play with those eggs, so I struggle to be as still as I can. I squeeze my eyes shut, and I know in my heart that I will be chosen any minute now. But when the lights go on, and I open my eyes I see that I was not special. I had not been chosen.

4.

I am sitting on the front step of my house. It is a beautiful, sunny day, and I am enjoying being alone and quiet. Suddenly, my mother steps out with a tray in her hands. On the tray is my white plastic tea set. She gingerly sets it down beside me and shows me that the tea pot is filled with Kool-Aid, a treat we rarely if ever have. I am delighted beyond words. I fill a cup with the drink and carefully walk to our snowball tree. The boughs are heavy with flowers and they hang down in such a way as to create a perfect little room under the branches. I sit there watching the world through a gauzy white veil.



Kindergarten 1978

Friday, August 19, 2011

Angel Mine



My new baby boy.

One year.

Two years


Three Years.


Four Years.


Five years.


Six Years.


Seven Years.

Happy birthday my Angel Boy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stillness


I'm hunkering down.

I hide in the house and avoid the phone. I shuffle the kids into the car and drive somewhere far for the day in order to avoid any familiar faces. I walk around the village but only along quiet paths or at odd hours, so that I won't be disturbed by small talk.


I don't want to see anyone.

I live in a small town and have many friends, and soon others will notice this avoidance and wonder.

I don't have any good reason for my behavior. I'm not depressed. In fact, I feel very peaceful and content in a way I haven't ever felt before. I'm a very social person by nature, and I usually need to be surrounded by people to feel uplifted, whole, and complete. But lately I need my space and my solitude.

No storm is coming, but there is a scent on the wind that tells me to stay in, keep my loved ones close, and be silent.

True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. ~William Penn


Monday, July 18, 2011

Holding Her Hand


Won't you please come visit me over HERE? I'm blogging at the Democrat and Chronicle today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nostalgia


I recently spoke to a dear friend about the spring birth of her first child, a sweet little boy with ginger locks and a winning smile.

When I first heard the good news I was beyond excited. This friend had been a pivotal figure in my life during my pregnancy, delivery, homecoming, and the first two months after the birth.

On the day my daughter was born she came to the hospital and patiently waited in the maternity room hallway until I delivered. She took the very first, beautiful pictures of my baby girl with her father. She sat with me after the c-section, along with a couple of other friends, while I waited for the nurses to reunite me with my daughter who was in the nursery with her father. She was also among the several people who came back the very next day bearing smiles, flowers, and gifts.


Later, when I returned home, she helped my husband prepare the house for my return. She knew that my mother, who I missed so dearly and needed so much, was not due to arrive for a few more days. She lent us a much needed hand on that first nervous day back at the house.

So when I heard that she delivered a healthy son in May I felt not only joy but also a sweet nostalgic pang for that day, ten years ago, when she witnessed my transformation into motherhood.

Good luck to you, my dear friend. Kiss your sweet boy and tell him it's from his Auntie Christine.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kindred Spirits


Last week we visited friends who had moved from Brockport to Oneonta. Our two families just "click", as they say, and we all settled into an easy, comfortable routine as soon as we arrived. There were late night conversations about everything under the sun, after dinner dips in the pool, breathtaking hikes, campfires, and wonderful meals.

Perhaps the best part of the trip, though, was seeing our two sons re-connect. They were best buddies before the move, and they picked up right where they left off as if it had only been a day or two since they were last together. They worked for hours with teeny-tiny legos and discussed the ins and outs of being a spy. They played hard from morning until late in the night when they collapsed in a heap exhausted from the joy of being together.

On our last night there, we all took turns checking in on the soundly sleeping boys. They looked so sweet and small, and beads of sweat sparkled on their smooth, unworried brows.
"They look like twins," my friend said.

My heart lurched a little knowing that the next day we would have to leave and that the boys' dream-like state of play would come to an abrupt and sad end.

When we left I fought hard against the tears, and I think my smile seemed cheerful as I said good bye. But in my heart I was sad to have to leave my friend, and even sadder to watch my son leave his true bosom buddy behind.

I hope it won't be long until we see them again. But until then, I know we will all hold each other in our hearts.

"True friends are always together in spirit." Anne Shirley

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Canal


Please come on over the Her Rochester and read my new Post: On the Erie Canal.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's all in my head. . .



It started with my knee many years ago in high school. It would ache and smart and generally bother me until I, finally, sought help through physical therapy in college. Unfortunately, I did not get any relief. A few years later I hurt my shoulder while doing archaeological field work in graduate school. The pain, like my knee pain, never resolved itself despite treatment. Then, a few years ago, my right leg began to hurt terribly from my hip to my foot aggravating my knee and an old injury to my calf. The pain forced me to stop running despite the fact that I had grown to really love it. A few months ago I hurt my left shoulder, and the pain was so intense that for a while it kept me up at night along with the pain in my hip, knee. leg, and right shoulder.

I finally had enough when a few dear friends encouraged me to seek help. I've seen my family doctor, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a reiki practitioner, a yoga therapist, a physical therapist, an orthopedic surgeon, and a back specialist. I've had countless x-rays, blood tests, three MRIs, two cortisone shots, and several courses of anti-inflammatory medication. Now all the test results are in and the results show. . .

Nothing.

I have some inflammation in my right shoulder and runner's knee (a term which really means: "your knee hurts and we don't know why"), but that is it. There is nothing damaged whatsoever.

Of course I'm immensely relieved to hear this, but I also feel. . . foolish and embarrassed.

The pain I've been feeling for years has no source and therefore no cure.

I've exhausted and annoyed my caregivers. The orthopedic surgeon finally told me (kindly, but firmly) after a long discussion about my knee and right shoulder that he didn't even want to discuss my left shoulder. He said that there was basically nothing to be done except perhaps more physical therapy. The physical therapist has not returned my call, but the last time I was there I could tell that she was frustrated with my odd array of issues. The back doctor left a message today that said that there is "nothing to explain your right leg pain."

Nothing.

Nothing is wrong. Nothing in my physical body is broken. So, if every aspect my my person is completely healthy then where does the problem really lie? The answer, I'm afraid, is difficult to admit.

Why am I writing about this in such a public forum? Because I, like my doctors, am exhausted, I am tired of hearing myself talk about it, and I fear answering direct questions regarding my situation now. I simply lack the energy and courage to say these words out loud to those who are bound to ask. So I've written about it here to head off any questions that may come my way.

I need to close this chapter and deal with this all in my own way now. I'll be working with my yoga therapist and my friend who is schooled in natural healing. I'm going to work on understanding the mental and (if there are any options left) physical origins of my pain and work on alternative ways to heal my mind and body.

I'm going to thank the universe every day for a sound body with no diseases or serious injuries plaguing it. I'm going to work on finding a way to make myself understand that I am in control of my body and my pain.

I'm going to move on.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Her Rochester Moms Blog


I'm blogging over at the Democrat & Chronicle's Her Rochester Moms Blog!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Choose You


I'm over at the American Cancer Society's Choose You Blog today. Special thanks to Julie at the Using My Words for asking me to share my story.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May Day Musings

I've just created a new blog called May Day. My goal is to feature posts by writers and artists who wrote about or otherwise expressed their personal feelings after bin Laden's death on May 1st.

If you'd like to participate please send me a short bio with a link (or full text) to your post, poem, essay, letter, video, music, art piece, or article .


Monday, May 2, 2011

May Day


On Sunday the kids grabbed their toys and gear, and we headed outside to enjoy some family time. In less than ten minutes, though, helmets were ripped off and the skateboard and scooter were abandoned and left upended on the concrete, wheels spinning.

My daughter had begun to pick wildflowers--tiny daisies, minuscule grape hyacinths, and the smallest purple sweet peas--to toss, one by one, into the canal. She was watching them float lazily away when my son came upon the remains of a crayfish. We poked and prodded the shell and teased each other with the tiny little claw.

We found a bird's nest, empty, nestled in the grass.

I told the children that it was May day, and my girl began to dance round and round a flag pole on the edge of the canal. The forsythia tangled around its base and the damp, cloudy air was heady with the scent of freshly mown grass and ozone.

The rain soon drove us in with the bird's nest cradled gently inside a skateboard helmet. A small bouquet of flowers was left idly among a circle of stones.

I will always remember my children that day as they danced and laughed around a flag pole that flew no colors.

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"Heaven help the roses when the bombs begin to fall." -- Ron Miller




Thursday, April 28, 2011

Head Over Heels




I'm featured over at Story Bleed Magazine today! Hope you enjoy my post, Head Over Heels.
xoxo
c--

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ten

Waiting for you. . .

Just after your birth. . .
One year old. . .

Two years old. . .

Three. . .
Four. . .



Five. . .
Six. . .


Seven . . .
Eight. . .
Nine. . .


Ten

I love you, my girl. Happy 10th Birthday.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Powder Blue

This post has been removed by the author.  Publication pending.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

growing up

"Management position open! No experience necessary! Come to the following address at noon today dressed for success!"

This wasn't the exact advertisement in the paper that day, but it was close. It promised the world, and to a naive young woman of eighteen, it was a chance at some easy summer money.

That day there were well over thirty young people stuffed into the generic little office in the generic little strip mall in Silicon Valley. No one was over twenty-one. No one older was dumb enough to come.

We all stood in our nicest clothes with neatly applied lipstick and freshly shaved faces. It was mid June and school was over, and we were ready to fill our pockets. I'd done the mall thing. The baby sitting thing. The temp thing. The receptionist thing. I knew that the money (for a young kid like myself) was in waitressing at a chain like Chili's or Spoons, but it scared me. The mall was hard enough for me since there were so many people, strangers. I was too shy and nervous and pretty much desperately feared the fast paced work of food service. No, a quiet office, a private home, the receiving end of a telephone. . .those were what I wanted, needed.

We were herded into a small room adjacent to the waiting area. We sat nervously in front of a large dry erase board. McDonald's fast food sacks were lined atop a table off to the side, and the smell of Egg McMuffins and fresh coffee wafted our way. The the presentation began. A slick looking guy with greasy hair and a greasier smile started writing on the board about sales and strategies. We were all confused, to say the least. When he noticed how bewildered we seemed he began to explain that we were all hired. On the spot. He told us we were perfect for the job.

Oh, and what WAS the job?

Selling perfume.

Door to door.

He started passing out the food before we could start stampeding toward the exit. Then a woman rose and began telling us about her experience at the company. She had apparently made quite a bit of money in just a short amount of time, and she was making more and more each day. Her advice: "Don't pass this up! Why, you could be rich!"

We took the bait. Every. Single. Person.

The next morning we would be split into sales groups with an experienced leader, but for now we should go home and sell some of their imitation designer perfume to our parents. And neighbors. And friends. The person who sold the most would get a prize in the morning.

So, with idiot stars in my eyes, I went home. My parents looked at me sadly and then sweetly forked over the cash for two bottles of the wretched stuff. They knew what I didn't--that this would all go sour and no one was going to make any money and that I would hate it. They also knew that I'd have to figure that all out for myself.

The next day everyone showed up early and eager. The young man who sold the most indeed got a prize--more McMuffins.

How underwhelming.

There were five of us in our group that day. Our leader was a woman who was half African-American and half Japanese-American. We were sent out in a van with a box of their finest (trashiest?) perfume. We parked downtown and went with our leader for a lesson. The first store we entered was a florist owned and run by a Japanese family. My leader suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, had a strong Japanese accent. I think she sold one bottle. Soon we came upon another store. This time my leader's voice took on the tone of the streets--the hard core loudness of a tough cookie trying to earn a decent living. I can't remember if we sold anything there.

Now it was our turn. We spread out at a gas station like fleas on a dog. The young Latino girl I was with lied to a man paying his gas bill when she told him that she was a single mother with no money and desperately needed to make a sale. I shyly approached a successful looking business man pumping gas into his black sedan. As I pitched my sale I must have looked horrified or scared or stupid or all of the above, because he turned and looked me squarely in the eye and said, "You must be pretty desperate to do this. Pretty damn desperate. " I told him that I was not desperate. Only dumb.

At that moment I aged. I knew what a pitiful and disgusting scam it all was, and I knew I was a sucker.

In the van on the way back to the office another young woman confided in me that she hated this job and wanted to quit. She and I went into Mr. Greasy Hair's office. I did all the talking, which was strange for me. I usually faded into the background, nervous and small. But I told him in no uncertain terms that this job was a load of crap, was parasitic, and was designed to trap naive young people into making the company loads of money while the salespeople themselves went home empty handed. Except, of course, for a hot McDonald's breakfast.

The girl next to me cried.

He told me how disappointed he was, and how he had seen such potential in me. He felt that I could have gone far. I laughed and left without looking back. He did, though, convince my new friend to give it another day.

This was one of the first times ever that I stood up for myself. My wallflower days were beginning to fade, and fast.
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And you dear readers, what was the worst job YOU ever had?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dogs Bark & Sisters Call

De over at Ob-la-Deidre wrote a piece called "Dogs Bark Jingle Bells." This piece was inspired by my piece, "Sisters Call" and Rick Moody's "Boys." Go on over and check it out.

We would like to challenge you, too, to write a piece with a repetitive opening phrase (boys enter the house, sisters call, dogs bark, etc.). Leave a link to your post in the comments if you take the leap.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sisters Call....


Sisters call their parents in Europe from a phone at their grandmother's farm house in Missouri. They try not to cry but the little one, only three, can't help it. Now there, calm down, it's ok. I need a red ribbon she says, her curls bobbing as she sobs. The grandmother climbs up to the musty dusty attic to find a perfect red bow.

Sisters call their grandma from California. We miss you! Come soon! Their small hearts ache for this far away grandmother. They already know that many people will not understand that you can send love across telephone wires. They learn early that distance cannot diminish affection.

Sisters call California from Missouri again, this time they are years older. It isn't really that bad, they say. Just a few stitches, Mom, really. But their mother knows that it is more than a simple scrape. She can hear the quiver in her youngest child's voice as she assures her, I'm fine, I promise.

Sisters call boys and their school friends and always want to be on the phone now that the teen years have come. They carry the giant cordless phones from room to room and their parents discuss a second line just to avoid hassles and arguments.

Sisters call each other only occasionally now since the older one has moved away to college. They are occupied with school, work, and friends, so it's only now and then they talk. In fact, the phone takes on an increasingly smaller and smaller role in both of their busy lives.

Sisters call a little more often after they become separated by an entire country. One now lives in the east and the other remains on the west coast. Still, they are busy and only talk occasionally when time allows.

Sisters call often now to discuss wedding plans. But you have to choose a color, the youngest tells her older sister as they plan for a September wedding. Ok, ok, um, blue. Just pick any blue dress. I wish Daddy could be there to walk me down the aisle. He will be, she tells her, I know it.

Sisters call constantly now that a baby is on the way. On the day of the birth the youngest calls the hospital in a worried panic about the delivery. She's ok, everyone is ok. It's a girl! Can you be her godmother? You'll be her tia, her nina, her special auntie.

Sisters call and text:
I'm on the bus and this guy I am sitting next to looks just like your husband! LOL
Are you watching the presidential debate? I mean who is this bozo?
I'm so jealous that you are at the beach again! I miss SF. xoxo
I think I'm pregnant.

Sisters call because texting about babies and pregnancies just isn't enough. I can't wait for you to be a mommy, too! I love you and I'm so happy, she says, to her no-longer-a-baby-sister. I love you so much. Forever.

Sisters call each other sobbing with worry about their mother who is in the hospital so far away. They ache with worry and love and curse the miles, because while the distance doesn't weaken the love they have for each other and their mother it does make everything so damn hard.

Sisters call and hand the phones to their toddlers and small children screaming, Say hi to your tia! Don't press the buttons! Just sing that song you learned at play group for tia and your cousins, please. They ask for advice about teething and homework and laugh and cry about how crazy and hard and wonderful it is to have these little people in their lives.

Sisters call and say, I miss you. Come back to California. Come to New York. I miss you. I love you. I miss you.

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This essay was inspired by Rick Moody's short story entitled "Boys." I was intrigued by the repetition of the phrase, "boys enter the house." I wanted to see if I could create an essay with a similar pattern to each segment. If you haven't read "Boys" yet, you really should.



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sylvia


What I remember most about my grandma, perhaps, are her hands. Many say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but I tend to disagree. The hands, I believe, can tell stories of a life like nothing else can. Grandma’s hands told stories of work, love, and loss, and I will forever miss holding them in mine and feeling her soft yet firm touch.

I can see her hands now, pinching the edges of a piecrust or working a batch of cookie dough. I can see them reaching out to touch my baby daughter, for the first time, full of love and tenderness. I can feel them, too, tissue soft, caressing the back of my hand as we sit together quietly on the sofa. I can even catch a whiff of the Chantilly Lace that scented the hankies she often clutched.

Her hands were tough, gentle, and strong. They were no nonsense, midwestern, hardworking hands of a farm girl used to work. They were the hands that crafted rockets at a war plant during WWII. They were hands that guided her son through the doors of the house she worked tirelessly for when she was raising a child, alone, in the 1940s. They were the hands that crafted stories from cotton and thread and wove love and devotion into every quilt she ever made. They were the hands that held the strong hands of her loving husband, my grandpa Oscar, for forty years. They were the hands that brought meals to her neighbors and planted seeds in her garden. They were the hands that snapped hundreds and hundreds of pictures over the years in order to capture the fleeting moments of life before they were gone. They were the hands that trembled with shock and sorrow when her only son left this earth before she did.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said that:

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."

Sylvia Mechling Joggerst was one of those beautiful people. But, like Kubler-Ross said, she did not just “happen.” She struggled and fought her way into her beauty and along the way touched the lives of everyone she met. She worked hard, played hard, and loved hard and we are all privileged to have known her light.

So today, in honor of my grandmother’s memory, reach out and hold the hand of someone you love. Memorize its feel, its scent, and its strength. When you touch that hand infuse it with love and peace and warmth and think fondly of Sylvia.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the feel of color part 2

There is nothing as wonderful as a brand new box of crayons. I bought the big ninety-six pack last summer, and it came complete with a built-in sharpener.

"They are for the kids," I told myself.

Yet I couldn't help but feel a little excited as I brought them home. I longed to open them, breathe in their scent, and make that first waxy mark on a blank sheet of paper.

My son was fascinated by the sharpener. We had to dig around in the junk drawer and the back of the craft box for some old worn down nubs of crayons to test out the new contraption. We soon had several very tiny, perfectly sharp and paperless little bits of color in front of us.

Next it was time to look over the new crayons themselves. "Mauvelous" was his favorite. I searched to make sure "Burnt Umber" was still there like when I was a child. It was.

When our examination was complete, we moved on to the coloring books. Once empty spaces of black and white began to burst with color. My daughter came in and joined us, and we spent the next few hours working on our pages.

When everyone finished I dove into a new task: color organizing. As a child I would arrange all the crayons, markers, and drawing pencils by color. I spent an inordinate amount of time sorting, categorizing, and subcategorizing by hue. Of course it didn't last. Within a week the organization I so meticulously created would crumble, almost literally. Crayons would break and their wrappers tear. The pencils would be out of order and the tips of the markers would fray and dry out. So of course, it wasn't long before the new box of crayons I had purchased for the kids became a mess of broken pieces scattered at the bottom of the craft box.

I was bothered to no end by this disarray, so a few weeks ago I purchased a set of colored pencils to use in my mandala coloring books. I guarded them carefully from the little fingers who would, I knew, beg to use them the minute they got wind of a new art supply in their midst.

I think the perfectly sharpened tips and organized color scheme lasted about one week.

"Please, please let me use them! I'll be careful I swear."

And so the seal was broken and now my lovely, colored pencils are scattered all over the dinning room table next to a stack of construction paper and a roll (my last) of Scotch tape. At first I felt angry.

"Those are mine! Can't I have ONE thing in this house that no one else touches?"

I felt like I needed to snatch them away, hide them, and protect them from those little people grasping at everything I have.

But the feeling passed quickly, because, really, who can horde color? How selfish would it be to keep "Cerulean" hidden away from those I love? What right do I really have to shove"Lime Green" or "Orchid" in drawer for no one to experience but myself?

After all, color is a shared joy. No one should be allowed to smother a rainbow.

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You can read the original "feel of color" here.




Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Copyright Brockport

I'm featured at the Democrat & Chronicle's Brockport blog today. Please go check it out. And thanks to all of my friends for your loving support. I'd especially like to thank Caurie Putnam for writing such a sweet, thoughtful piece.

xoxo

Monday, February 14, 2011

Winner!

Trisha Johnson won a handmade book!!!! Thanks for reading everyone.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blank Page




Recently, I took a sewn book making class with two friends at a local art gallery. I was very excited, but even more than that I was scared. Of what? It was just a three hour introduction to a basic craft. What was so intimidating about that?

The class got going, and I felt so damn jittery. What was wrong with me? What was I so afraid of? But I dove in (over?) eager to learn everything and to absorb as much as possible.

As the class progressed I thought, "I am good at this," and I suddenly decided to make one for practically everyone I know. In my head I began picking out colored papers and delicate jewels for the spines. I mentally budgeted for beeswax and colored linen thread.



A few weeks goes by, and the three of us gather again to make more books, share supplies, and chat. My friends talk about their teaching jobs--one is a creative writing professor and the other an artist and instructor at the art museum. I listen to them talk about classes, about the pieces they are working on.

I push the needle and thread through the paper--stab, pull, tighten.

The scissors make a zip, sip, zip, sip sound as I try desperately to keep my lines straight. I don't want to waste the pretty and expensive paper we are using.

I look at my girlfriends, and they are so beautiful sitting there sipping their wine while I munch snacks, and I am grateful to have their warmth and beauty gracing my life.




It is late, well past midnight, so we close up shop and clean up scraps of paper and bits of thread. We examine what we have made and feel proud, good. I set the wine glasses in the sink, and put away the leftover snacks. My artist friend hands me an unopened bag of chips as she goes to leave.

"Nine pounds to lose, still, I say," as I decline the offer.

I brush food crumbs off of my baggy sweatshirt as we say goodbye.

I've made books non-stop since that evening. Some I've already given away, and a few I am saving for Valentine's Day presents. They sit in a colorful stack on my shelf waiting to be presented to their new owners. Their pages are blank and empty, begging for a story to be written.









*Leave a comment on this post, and I'll enter your name in a drawing for a hand sewn book. Drawing will be held February 14th.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Portrait of Noelía.

Please see the aaduna June 2011 issue to read this post. Coming June 6!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ritual

Please see the aaduna June 2011 issue to read this post. Coming June 6!