It’s good to be home.

Well, I’m home.

About twenty years ago, my father and his wife bought a house. It was in the middle of a giant yard, at the edge of what some would call a “town,” or, as those people exaggerated, a “city,” that is still just a bit larger than the size of a postage stamp. Maybe the size of a postcard stamp. That town is Leslie, Michigan, in the heart of nothing. They made the decision to, essentially, rip up our roots and transplant them in a field a hundred miles away.

For twenty years, I held onto a wild childish hope that someday I would return to Bay City. Someday, I would be big enough and old enough to make my own decisions and live wherever I wanted, and there was nowhere in the world I wanted to be more than a place I could call home. A place where my family was closer than a phone call. A place where I could walk the streets and remember what it felt like to be utterly in love with a place.

No matter how many places I’ve lived, I still call Bay City home. As of two weeks ago, I can now say that without enduring the rolling eyes of anyone whom has heard me wax nostalgic about this place. It says so on my drivers’ license. It says so on my mailbox. It says so on the mail I receive in that mailbox. It says so on my work papers, and on FGL’s work papers. It is so, and I am so, so, so thrilled to say so. It’s been a long time since I cried so hard and so happily.

Most of the new house is unpacked. We are finding new surprises about this house as we go along, most of them unfortunate. Still, I remain optimistic because getting here was half the battle – the hard half. I am within fifteen minutes of seeing my Grama Barb every other day, half an hour of seeing my sister nearly every day, half an hour of seeing my cousin and her ever-expanding brood (welcome, Mr. Grayson James, born today at 12:21 am!) and fifteen minutes of an aunt whom, as I put it once while quite drunk (but still so very honest and heartfelt!), “was twice the parents both my parents ever were, combined.” I walk into her house and dig my hand into the jelly bean jar. She wants to feed me. She always wants to feed me, and God help me, I always want to eat! She plans family dinners and kid-friendly get-togethers. She saves pictures and mementos and understands my heart in ways I can only be grateful for. She embodies the spirit of the family I wanted so badly, and I can’t express enough how thankful I am to be within hug’s reach of her now.

It has taken some getting used to, being in this town. I am remembering things that are not the same anymore. I searched for Mooney’s ice cream for nearly a week, before finding out the hard way that my favorite flavor was discontinued. No matter; I can and will evolve. There will be other flavors. The important thing is that I have it, and I have my big front porch. Every night, I fall asleep to the comforting orange glow of the streetlights. I can’t believe how much I missed their presence.

When I left my father’s house in Leslie, when I left that place for good, we stopped at an A&W Root Beer Stand and celebrated my freedom with a float. The other night, we walked down to the A&W Drive In down the street and I relished in the feeling of that frosty mug in my hand as I once again celebrated freedom. I celebrated the freedom from everything that has held me back for twenty years as I’ve fought harder than Odysseus to make my way home.

We’ve unpacked most of the house. Once I have some shelves, I will be able to unpack all of my books and I will consider myself fully moved in. There are tubs and tubs of them against the wall waiting to be let out. I can almost hear them crying as I pass them, loving the sound of my feet across the (original!) dark wood floors. This house creaks, and each movement I make reminds me of the time that has passed, the people that have dwelled, and the many, many lives that have walked through these crooked doorways. Every floor is wavy, every window sticks. The basement leaks like a post-iceberg Titanic, but when I look out the window and I see my town, none of it matters. I am home.

During the course of unpacking, I found my Big Purple Binder. It’s the binder that holds every piece of paper that has been scribbled on, all of those words I pieced together to create poetry. It holds all of my sentences, and even the grades I received for them. In looking through my past work, I found one of my Bay City pieces I wrote back in high school. I’d like to share it with you.

It never mattered what the weather was like. If it was sunny, we’d walk to the park, or around the old, familiar neighborhood, or run across the Riverwalk planks in our sandals, watching the ducks look at us as if we were loopy. Sometimes, we’d go for rides in the big ol’ boat of a car Uncle Cris used to drive and let the wind run between our toes as we hung our feet out the window as he constantly nagged at us to pull them back in.

If it was overcast or rainy, we’d pull the vertical blinds across the huge picture window so no gray sunlight that we always thought looked cold could get in. We’d cook up a big pot of beans and rice and a griddle full of johnnycake. Then we’d spend the afternoon playing with Legos and having girlie chats in the empty bedroom upstairs. We always had to keep talking, because the silence up there seemed so loud. Sometimes we wondered if that room was haunted by the ghost of my uncle whom had died there.

The first thing that called out to us when we’d pull into the driveway of Grama Barb’s house was the porch. It used to be cement, with black iron rails that enchanted us so much, we’d dare our friends to stick their heads between them so we could laugh and panic a little when they got stuck. For a long time, summer lasted so much longer than the rest of the year, so the weather was always warm and we’d stay on the porch and trace each other with chalk. Every new visitor that rang the doorbell looked at the porch with a funny look on their face, remarking to our grandmother that her porch looked like a crime scene. She’d look at the porch and say, “Yep, there’s a masterpiece right there. Don’t I have clever granddaughters?” One thing about her was, we could always level with her.

When the screen door opened, there was a worn out couch that looked tired, like a single mom on a Wednesday night. Best of all, there was a big iron stove that heated the big white house we loved so much. Looking to the right, there was a big open kitchen with broken linoleum that looked like patio bricks. When we were little, we used to try to keep our feet on one square at a time, so we wouldn’t break our mommies’ backs. In this kitchen was a touchstone of our childhood: a big, ugly washer.

It never occurred to us that a washer didn’t belong in the kitchen. To us, it was a table, a sofa, “home base” and a comfort. It was as much a fixture in our lives as the party store on Wenona was, or our left feet.

Our grandmother never grew old. Her glasses changed once in a while, from brown to pink, and her magnets on the fridge sometimes changed, but the world she lived in and welcomed us into was always the same.

The bathtub was a hideous hue of pink, the little flowers on the Corelle were always drab green, the overstuffed country couch with one huge cushion that always served as our cruise ship when we played glamorous versions of “House” was always cornflower blue, and all the things that were supposed to be white were always gold with the remnants of our grandmother’s legendary chain-smoking habit.

It was a big house, like a giant. It was a Gulliver in Lilliput next to the houses it sat near. Most of the homes on Dean Street were big and old, though, and each of them had a history as special as our family gathering spot, with chipping paint and a trampled lawn. It was a good thing she raised granddaughters and not grass.

We can’t say our childhood wasn’t special. We were the Charlie’s Angels of the neighborhood, my cousins and me. We were the Three Musketeers. We had room to roam, our trusty washer, weather that never dampened our fierce five-year-old spirits, and a boat of a car to hang our feet out the window as the wind ran between our toes and the sound of our laughter could be heard all the way down Center Avenue.

Obviously, things have changed a little. Maybe Grama Barb is getting a little older. A little. And maybe Uncle Cris doesn’t drive a boat of a car anymore – but now he’s got a truck! I’m still waiting for my house with a big pink bathtub, but it’s coming. And I’ll be here, with a sense of patience that I haven’t been able to find in twenty years and twenty thousand other places.

It’s good to be home.

-xoxo 🙂

Love and Insanity: A moment’s pause to think

I’ve had a lovely day with my fair ginger lover. This morning, we talked about what his name meant, and to our delight, some of the translations said “fair.” We thought it fitting. The day was filled with small happy moments like that, like we floated on them through the afternoon and into the evening. Now, we are enjoying a quiet peace between us as he slays… something (nearly everything, actually,) in the worlds of Skyrim, and I clickety-clack my thoughts onto something more permanent than myself, here.

We were making plans for our impending trip to Florida (13 days and MAN, are we excited!) and I grabbed a notebook to start making lists, because that’s what I do when I get excited about things, and as I was flipping through the pages of some old notes, I found this gem, and I wanted to share it with you.

Date: October 24, 2012

Today, I woke up and felt like writing something. Everything jumped out at me, begging to put it on a page. My first feeling is arrogance – a page for these words will rescue them from being lost. Maybe even immortalize them. But if there are words that nobody ever reads or hears, did one ever truly speak or write? Am I just letting these words fly away into existence anyway? And in doing so, am I really just losing them despite all this effort?

Sometimes I forget how to do this. I forget how to save these words, even just for myself. I can them up and store them somewhere so deep that I forget where I put them. Except I can feel them. I can feel them, eating away at the contentment I’ve worked so hard for. I just can’t see them. I search and cannot find them.

But with this man, with my very best friend in the world, with the live rendition of every imaginary friend I’ve ever had, I can find them. They’re blurry but they’re there. My living muse. I just need to remember.

Thought of this, this morning. Insanity means to fall into the same person’s arms every night, hoping to feel differently. Love is to fall into the same arms every night, knowing full well you’ll never feel differently.

I know what love is. I almost lost that thought once. But as usual, he brought it back to me at the very last second.

 

For Mama Bear: A Eulogy

Image

 

* This piece is an assignment I have written for a presentational speaking class I am taking. I would like to share it with you.

 

When someone loses their parents, they are called orphan. When someone loses their spouse, they are widowed, or are a widower. When someone loses a pet, they are called… people. Because there is no special title, no words special enough to describe what kind of person we are after we have experienced the extraordinary love of a dog.

They are called man’s best friend, and for good reason. A dog will never judge you, never say hurtful things, never desert you, and no matter how short you fall in your friendship, she will never rub your nose in it. I was once told that, in the steps of reincarnation, a dog’s life is the last life before reaching Nirvana. It gives me comfort to think that my Mama Bear is one with the Force now.

Let me tell you about her, and I will try to use words to make you understand.

Her name was KayCee Lou, and she came into this world in an explosion of white fur, with a golden mane around her head like a halo. She was soft, she was warm, she was everywhere I needed her to be. If I was busy, she was patiently by my side. If I was cold, she was lying across my feet. If I was hurt, she was snarling at the culprit, and if I was sad, she was patiently across my lap, her golden fur clenched in my fists. She had the patience of a saint for me, and should anyone else require her services while I was in her domain, they were SOL.

From day one, she was mine. I met her on the Fourth of July, after coming home from my dad’s house for a few weeks in the summer. She charged at me through the kitchen, flipping over her own ears to land at my feet with a plop. It was love at first lick, and for ten years, we were inseparable. Her face peeked through the curtains to watch for my bus every single day after school, and we lit up at the sight of each other like beacons in the night every afternoon.

She was my baby, my sister, my mother. A steady hand when I wasn’t so steady. A soft place to land. She was a familiar face when others were blurred. She was understanding as I went through my awkward angsty years of adolescence, and dutifully waited for me as I ventured out into the great wide world without her. She watched and waited, and became a puppy again every time I returned.

Though I speak as if her life revolved around me, it was I who was given the privilege of watching her beautiful life unfold for ten years. I was witness to a blooming romance as she grew into our male Golden’s companion, and I watched her fall silent on the day we carried him home in the big cardboard box. From that day she never barked again.

But she was never sad. She loved again, as we brought another male into our midst, and for Bailey, she birthed 31 beautiful puppies, cried for three who were lost, and bravely said goodbye to 27 who went on to be bringers of joy like their mother. She was the proud mama of Sam-Sam, a familiar fuzzy face that greets me at my mother’s side every day as I wave good morning. In addition to her own pups, she loved and attended to mine, too, making sure my girls’ faces were well washed before making it through the door. In her old age, she watched my house across the street from my mother’s front window, content to stay where she had always stayed, but never allowing me to go unprotected.

The night I got the call was the night I made a decision that changed the course of my life. It was a decision that put the fate of my life back in my own hands, and I had seen her in the afternoon to tell her all about it and give her treats. She kissed my face as I said goodbye to her, and six hours later, she was gone. I understand now that she knew her job was done, and I have used and will continue to use that hope that she held in me to fuel myself towards the person she always knew I could be.

So what do you call someone who has loved and lost to such a great capacity? I would call them blessed.

 

 

 

The Best Words – Mad Lib Style!

NOTE: I am making the move from Blogger to WordPress complete; thanks much for bearing with my multiple updates as I share my favorite vintage posts so that new audiences may enjoy them. 

November 23, 2013

Our Favorite Words – Mad Lib Style 

Now THIS is flippin’ cool. THIS is my newest obsession, my new Candy Crush. I am so excited to have discovered this, and I am SUPER stoked to share this with you. If it isn’t something that is already taking the world by storm, then it should be. Hey word junkies and language geeks out there: get a kick out of the MOST EPIC NEW THING IN POETRY:

*drumroll please!*

AUTOCORRECT POETRY.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with AutoCorrect. Even those who are still carrying around those dinosaur flip phones, or – gasp! – a candy bar phone, you’ll know what AutoCorrect does. It turns completely innocent text messages into great fodder for conversation later, inside jokes, and now, amazing works of writing.

What I like about the concept of AutoCorrect poetry is that it has no form, it has no style. It is freewriting in our most modern form. It is mobile poetry. There is no longer any excuse for not having the time to write poetry. If you can text, you can create!

I had been mulling this over in my mind for a while now, and the other day I voiced my ideas to my fair ginger lover. We turned it into a bit of a game, to see who could come up with the better text, based on how hard we laughed at it. We spent the next half hour in a sort of texting date, writing hilarious and completely nonsensical things to each other and giggling like children. We probably looked so stupid, sitting there on our phones, snorting into our sleeves with laughter. 

I noticed while doing this that my AutoCorrect sometimes repeated words I had already used, like it was on a loop of words in a bank. Where did these words come from? From the person holding it, of course, which is me – and I realized that these aren’t just funny words. These are my favorite words. These are the words I use most often because they are the ones that are most familiar to my tongue. The way they roll off and clamber about the Universe after jumping out of my brain – those are the ones I reach for most often.

What words do you reach for? What words are in your vernacular? How do you expand your vocabulary? I recently discovered this great Facebook app called “Word Porn” (excuse the title) and while I’m not one who really gets into the “sharing” of all those random Page pictures and cutesy sayings and whatnot, I find myself sharing a lot of these updates because these words are just… splendiferous. 

In three days, I was introduced to, like, FIVE of my new favorite words. My first new favorite word was a word I wish I had known in fourth grade when we wrote and submitted orally a paper on what we wanted to be when we grew up. If you know me personally, then you know what my aspirations were back then. Innocent as they truly were, they were absolutely scandalous that day in my fourth grade classroom.

Keep reading. Maybe I’ll tell you the story. 

This is such a great word – a word to describe me perfectly. Not me as a complex, complete being, but the essential Me. The word is “quaintrelle.” The definition is I take this one at face value – I realize that it is to mean the female counterpart to a dandy British male, and that is not as I mean it. But read the definition and interpret it for yourselves, and I think you will realize what I’m trying to say.
“A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm and cultivation of life’s pleasures.”

Another one I really enjoy is “heliopheliac.” One who basks in sunshine, and is reluctant to leave it. 

Another is scripturient – having a consuming passion to write. Oh, how that one fits me so well. 

I love this one, this is probably one of my very favorite new words, “retrouvaille” which means rediscovery, the joy of finding a loved one after a long separation. 

And balter. Because that is hilarious. It is pronounced like “falter” and it isn’t far off. It means to WAVE YO HANDS IN THE AY-ER LIKE YOU JUST DON’T CAY-ER. It is the stuff of that thankfully lost video of my wedding night after the third? pub of the crawl… one very, very happy bride very much enjoying her new status as Mrs. Fair Ginger Lover. “To dance artlessly without particular grace or skill, but usually with enjoyment.” Just hearing the word makes me giggle.

Which brings me to the best part – the part of the evening where you learn how to write your very own AutoCorrect poems! Hope your seams are double stitched. 

Also, be warned – I apparently have a sailor’s vernacular because my phone allows my AutoCorrect to swear. 

Fuck the bus stop!
She is super proud
of my birthday party.
And,
she would love Mondays.

I would absolutely love to do this as spoken word, as slam poetry. I think it would be hilarious. Just me and a spotlight, deadpanning for the audience. I want to make this happen! Here’s another good one.

For example,
a little ridiculous,
and the grocery shopping cart system – 
it’s not connecting with his toes!
I don’t want the baby giving them
to the store in the Middle East.

I noticed that a lot of my little poems ended up being about the baby. My little Muse. He is his father’s son in so many ways. Love that little bundle of joy from the ends of his wispy blonde hair to the tips of his tiny little toes, but sometimes, I think my AutoCorrect captures my worst 3 AM moments. For example:

Give me a good day sweetie.
Try to get rid of them,
in their fucking frustration,
by throwing out the baby.
(wow, I must have been really, um, tired.)

My phone is very Smart. It keeps up with current events. For the most part. It’s a little behind, but I still give it credit for knowing that Carlos is always to be associated with Danger. 

Carlos Danger is not connecting
a little more sweetie Love
to the midnight showing.
We need an experienced programmer
who has been CRAZY
about my teeth.

This is one from my husband’s AutoCorrect – and I took it personally, it was that sweet.

Thus the baby happy, 
and the fantastic four of us
to come home to

and snuggle – with you,
though I love you more

than any Hostess cake.

Aww.

Try it. Let’s start a new thing. Send an AutoCorrect Poem (ACP) text or post to someone and see how they react! When you get the inevitable “WTF?” explain the concept, and enjoy the hilarity.

Comment or submit your own AutoCorrect poem, thanks SO VERY MUCH for coming back to read this week, and please share and pin and +1 the crap out of The Saturday Evening Poet! I want my words to reach every furthest corner. I appreciate every like and share and click and skim. I thank you so very, very much and hope you have a great week.

xoxo 🙂

Oh, fine. Because you were kind enough to read to the end, I’ll tell you what happened in fourth grade.
I didn’t have such a refined vocabulary back then. (Where were you, Word Porn?) We were given an assignment to write a paper on what we wanted to be when we grew up. I didn’t know the word “choreographer.” I was also not familiar with the term “interpretive dancer.” All I knew is that out there somewhere, according to myHighlights for Children magazine, there were people who got paid to make up funky dances and teach them to people. I wanted to get paid for getting my groove on! I tried to think of the most technical term I could come up with for “funky” because that probably wasn’t anywhere near a list of occupations. I chose the most elegant sounding word, “exotic.”
Thus, my paper, which was presented via speech to the class, which was in full attendance that day, including the boy I had a crush on who sat in the front row right in front of where I was standing, became a speech on how I wanted to grow up to become an exotic dancer.
You’re welcome, and I’m very sorry if you were drinking anything. 🙂

Vintage Post: Why Write?

NOTE: I am making the move from Blogger to WordPress complete. Thanks for allowing me to re-post my prior posts so that they can be shared with a new audience. 

Why Write?

 
DECEMBER 7, 2013

 
I love to write; I love poetry and prose, short stories, flash fiction, pretty things. I love a beautiful sentiment put to simple words. Sometimes the riddle of our feelings is put together so simply that I have to go back and question myself after reading them. Sometimes someone just puts the words together in such a way that makes me think, “yes – THIS.”
 
I wrote a few weeks ago about my new fave poet, Lang Leav, out of Sydney, Australia. I love the way she is able to take simple words and phrases, and put them together so stoically, so quietly, and yet speak volumes with them. It is a height of talent that I aim my stretch towards.
 
Some people build things, like houses or machines or even sandwiches. I like to build emotions. I like to be the reason there are tears behind your eyes. I like to be the tug at your heart, the small smile you didn’t realize was blooming on your face. I like to bring words to the stage of paper and let them flail about passionately, zealously, even, in the spotlight of the reader’s eyes. 
 
Each line I write on a page is a direct representation of my inner child doing a wild pirouette. Look at me! I cry, look what I have made for you! I want to be seen for something, seen as something, recognized for something – and I’d like those somethings to be something I can be proud of. I want to be proud of my words, and I want others to know them, remember them, recite them and share them. I want others to know my work and aspire to write such words. I want to be a good poet – and I think the wanting is half the battle. Writing is such a personal journey, a war within oneself. The battle against time, procrastination, the mental blockage, fear and maybe even shame… all of these can be overcome by sitting down and forcing oneself to 
 
just.
put the words.
on the page.
 
JUST PUT THE WORDS ON THE PAGE, DAMMIT.
 
But which words? Which ones are the right ones? Which ones are the best? Who matters more, the reader or the writer? Do I want your opinion? Do you want mine? Do I want you to want mine? Once they’re out, they don’t come back. Bullets of the fiercest caliber, so choose wisely.
 
Most of the time, I write for catharsis. There’s something built up inside that needs to be freed. Sometimes it’s pain, sometimes it’s the rush of that giddy roller coaster ride between the first kiss and the last. I like to write in tribute to others. I like to write to frame the moment on a page so I can go back and remember what that moment felt like. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to call my memory eidetic, but it has been called remarkable. I can remember moments, certain snippets of conversation, the chill of the air, the look on someone’s face, the way my heart dropped or soared. I can remember the thought in my head at the time, or the spot on the wall or whatever it was that I focused on so as not to focus on the trauma of the moment. 

I write to remember, not just for me but for others to do so as well. I write so that people will know, and maybe when I’m gone, they’ll reanalyze their preconceived notions about me or what I wrote, and my writing will truly have a purpose – to make someone think. I write to inform, but not just to teach or to educate. I write to announce, to share, to think aloud, in a way. I write to make moments that shouldn’t be forgotten, unforgettable.

I think some of some pieces of poetry like tattoos. Shredding skin with every painful word being brought up from under the surface, laying feelings out on a canvas in an intricate design. When it’s over, you feel like you’ve been through something. It’s an experience. I feel like, when I’m sitting in the chair listening to the buzz, knowing it’s literally tearing apart what God created so as to make way for my own design, I’m the one in power. I’m the one controlling that tiny fragment of the Universe, and damn, does it feel good.

I have nine tattoos, and I can tell you a story about every one. I can tell you what it means to me, what I went through to mentally earn it, how I came to decide on the design of it, the reactions of the artists when I explained what I wanted, and the feeling of closure that comes when the needle finally hits my skin and I get that surge of adrenaline that tells me, “you went through THAT, you can get through THIS. If you get through THIS, then THAT will be worth the pain.”

When the book comes out, that will be the ultimate tattoo. That will be the graffiti I want to leave on the world. I just want something that says, “Shannon was here.”

What do you write for? Ask yourself and answer honestly – what is your motivation? If it is good, go for it. Hell, even if it isn’t, go for it anyway. I’m not in the business of crushing dreams. I’m here to write about them.
xoxo 🙂

Vintage Post: Words In Space and Time

NOTE: I am making the move from Blogger to WordPress complete; taking my best posts from before and storing them here to be viewed and enjoyed. Thanks for reading, and if re-reading, thanks again!

December 21 2013

Wow, this year is already coming to a close. I can’t believe how fast time has flown in 2013, and yet, I look back on all that has happened in my life this year and can’t believe it’s only been a year! At the beginning of the year, we were blessed with our little rock star Rory Gibson. Over the past ten months, I’ve watched him grow and learn and blossom into the bloomin’ little sunburst he is today. I’ve received promotions at work and I’ve made great strides in school, putting another three quarters under my belt. Only three more (or so) to go! The girls have grown, not just taller, but I can see how much they’ve changed since our family dynamic has changed, and at some point in the next two weeks, I guess I need to sit down and really take a look at what’s going on around me… because life is flying by, and it feels like, one more blink…and it will all be a thing of the past.

I’ve started submitting pieces for publishing this year. This was the first year that I’ve really paid attention to reading periods and publishing houses and magazines, and the first year that I’ve had the courage inside myself to put my words out there for others to read. This is the first year I’ve attempted to work as a writer. This is the first year I’ve written a resume in the hopes of finding a job that requires a pen and excellent grammar. This is the first year I’ve read my poetry in public – and I loved it! This is the first year I’ve allowed myself to explore this possibility of having pages with my words on them in other people’s hands.

At the end of last year, my fair ginger lover and I took a trip down to Naples, Florida to see his family. I had never met any of them before except his father, George. (Whom we should have named our son after, but I stubbornly held out for Rory so as not to doom our son with a little old man’s name for his entire life, which was subsequently made completely awesome by the royal couple naming the future king after him instead. So I’ll just say that I gave Kate and Wills the name and opted for naming mine after the Last Centurion, the last part of which was absolutely true.)

While we were down there, we met some super groovy people and I completely and utterly fell in love with the place. The beachy vibe, the slower pace, the wonderful strangers who embraced me without knowing my name or story. I played bongos on the beach and knocked off so many things off my Bucket List, it was insane.

Then I came home, kicking and screaming the entire way. I haven’t stopped missing it, and I haven’t stopped fantasizing about a nice little ranch under the palm trees, somewhere only a bike ride away from the ocean. I could live that life, drumming on the river with a group of old hippies, getting my groove on and throwing my words out into a corner of the Universe that still wants to hear them.

It was the end of December, and yet, I forgot more than once while I was down there, what day it actually was. I forgot what month it was – because it felt like summer and not just because of the weather. The atmosphere down there was just so damn cool.

Well, I’m still in Michigan. There are too many things holding me here right now. Work, school, a home I like with a landlord who is pretty awesome, if I were to rate him as a landlord. I have family here, and my girls are here – and so are their fathers. So, Michigan it is right now. But here’s the issue: I still crave that creative space!

With three kids and a Labrador, my house is not the most peaceful place to be all the time. It seems that when the mood to write strikes me, everyone is home and the volume is full blast. Throw in the noisy neighbors, the traffic noise from being the middle street between two major roadways in town, and the constant wail of sirens (I wouldn’t say I live in the “hood,” but I can definitely see it from my front porch!) and it is a bit obvious that this environment isn’t exactly conducive to creativity.

So what’s a girl to do?

I like to think I’m pretty efficient. I’m a big multi-tasker and I don’t like to make two trips. (Ask anyone on a Sunday morning at Bob’s while I’m carrying two trays piled high with breakfasts.) So I’ve taken to keeping a Memo app on my phone’s homepage, and now I have a little notepad wherever the mood strikes me! There are just too many things that fly through my head at any given moment that are too good to let go. Sometimes I just have to stop and write it down.

Many times, I’ll come up with things as I’m driving. I can’t exactly stop and whip out my pen and paper, or even get my phone out to jot down a quick memo. In those cases, I try to repeat it to myself over and over again, or expand it into a song so I can keep it in my memory. Sometimes I’ll get really into it and start narrating an entire story to myself. As soon as I get to my destination, I stop, scribble down the good parts in my server book or cell phone and continue on my merry way.

I forget these little notes sometimes. I forget them, tucked away in drawers and glove boxes, slid between pages and piles of papers. (I tell myself not to end up like my mother, and I always seem to tell this to myself as I’m doing something she would do, like rearranging large piles of junk mail into smaller piles tucked into other piles of mail. Weird.) I find them months later, sometimes years, and it’s amazing how easy it is to go back and remember what I felt in that moment.

It’s awe-inspiring, how words on a page can change a mood, can transport someone through time and space. It’s really cool to think about how powerful words can be. They can change the environment, they can change the mood, they can change the way people feel, act and think. Words are agents of change and I want to make changes. I want to make words worth reading, worth making a change for.

I guess I don’t really have a theme for this week’s update, but if you get a message out of this post, let it be this: Words are the lightest things we pack ourselves with when we venture out into the waking world, and sometimes, they have the heaviest weight. You can take them everywhere, but you can’t just use any of them anywhere. If you don’t have a place for your words, tuck them away in the piles of junk mail in your mind and come back to them later. Hold on to the good stuff.

Where is your creative space? Where do you find your inspiration? When you’re in the middle of something and the creative lightning bolt hits you, how do you cope with the awesomeness of it all? What’s your sorting system for holding it all together?

Please comment and share ideas and thoughts. I’m so thankful for anyone who reads my words, but feedback is so greatly appreciated!

Thanks, all. Have a fabulous week. xoxo : )

A deposit of memories

 

I pride myself on having a pretty good memory. I can remember the slightest details of days past, the furthest I can remember is age three. I remember dressing myself in a ruffled white tank top, which was a bit too small for me, but I forced it on anyway, because I remember how much I adored ruffles (and still do). I remember toddling around my Grama Barb’s driveway, very early in the morning. It must have been, because nobody else was awake yet, and the sky was half blue, half yellow.

All of my good memories from that time were warm ones. I don’t remember ever having a good day in the snow. I remember the first time I realized, when it really struck me that seasons were changing. I felt a lurch in my heart, and looking back, I wonder if that was the first time I was truly disappointed in something. I was four, peeking around the heavy golden-stained drapes hanging in her living room, dressing that grand front window with all those little panes. I saw the red and orange leaves from the large trees in the neighbor’s yard blowing down the curb and in front of Grama’s house. I gazed up into the naked trees and hoped they wouldn’t catch cold. Even then, I like to think I had a compassionate heart.

There was a vacant lot across the street, sitting on the corner. It was a perfect lot to play in, with a berry bush and a small hole in which to squish things with a small stick. The kids across the street lived adjacent to this lot and on one particular afternoon, we were pretending to mix magic potions with our berries and a few sorry ladybugs (because ladybugs are good luck, of course) as a storm brewed above our heads. As the first crack of thunder pounded our ears, the rain came spattering down in great exaggerated drops. Grama Barb hollered for us from the porch and we darted across the street, barely making it to the house before a flash and a bang left us in the dark. At three in the afternoon, my cousins and I played flashlight tag in the front room while Grama prayed in the kitchen that the roof wouldn’t blow away.

Even after they divorced, my father’s parents remained civil, as cooperative as they had ever been. My grandfather was a regular face at random family gatherings, sometimes pitching in to cook burgers on the grill for an impromptu dinner, or to stop by with some baked treats from Birney’s, the best bakery in the South End. We didn’t venture down there; that was his territory, the ghetto in which he skulked around sometimes. We heard rumors and he told us stories of different people he had encountered, going on to marry a prostitute he had befriended as a prison penpal. He was a colorfully crooked French Canadian, to say the least. He ate onions like apples, not once flinching at the bitter taste.

 

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Of everything I have accumulated in my life, and of everything I will ever gain or acquire, what I would hate to lose the most are these memories. The little moments that have shaped my life into what it is and will become – these are what matter most. To think that these may one day be taken from me, by age, disease or terrible circumstance, is a thought too heavy to bear. What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet. Somewhere, in a tiny corner of the Universe, these memories will be marked and stored. If only I could do the same with everyone inside them. – xoxo