I'm at a cafe, writing. I met a girlfriend for dinner and holiday browsing. Right before I left home, I realized that with my focus on Christmas preparations I had completely forgotten to finish writing my final story assignment.
So I took my laptop with me and resolved not to go home until it was done and submitted. It is.
Now I'm enjoying the twinkling lights, festive crowd, and dubious music of open mic at my fav cafe. It's quite fun.
Holiday crazy prep is behind me now. I mailed 60 Christmas cards today (60!!) and wrapped the last of the gifts. Nothing left to do but enjoy the week until the big day.
Terresa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle so kindly gave me permission to repost this gorgeous poem of hers. When I read it last week, I was in love from the first line. It's the kind of poem that makes me want to read more poetry - and write more too.
I immediately thought that I wished I could send it out in this year's Christmas letter. I just can't help myself - I have to write something for all my friends and family - a photo card alone seems lonely- but I don't like to just chirp on about our doings. So I find myself wanting to send out these evocative, thought-provoking, and not entirely appropriate poems, like this one. Unless you are a poetic sort. Then they seem wholly appropriate.
One year I did send A Summer's Day by Mary Oliver. Because what ARE you going to do with your one wild and precious life? It is an essential question!
Our family stumbled through our annual Christmas card-making trip late Friday night. Ten pm found us at Kinko's waiting for each glossy 4X8 to drop excruciatingly slowly from the photo kiosk. I love this year's family portrait with Santa. The colors of our clothes are just right in tone and we are all almost glowing with joy.
Oddly, what I like quite a lot about this card is that I look fairly heavy in it. Because the pose is so similar to last year's, it shows me exactly how much weight I have gained in 2009 in an objective sort of way. I know I'm supposed to feel bad about being overweight - and I sort of do. But not all that much.
When I look at the picture, I can't help but see the happiness on my face. The beauty of my family sharing a tradition with each other one more year. The fact that being overweight means that I am still here - I have survived many difficulties during this year, and even triumphed.
And I see the wonderful possibility for change and renewal in the future. It makes me want to get right into 2010. ( In fact, I jumped ahead and started my main resolution on December first.) Seeing a path before me fills me with optimism and hope. All that stored up weight is nothing but energy.
And the proof of many, many blessings.
I know our culture isn't used to seeing weight this way. We all try so hard to be perfect all the time. But I'm not. And the photo proves it. Now what?
I so love to send out Christmas Cards. If you would like to receive one - and the still unwritten missive- please email me your address and I'll add you to our annual list. (I'll keep all your info private of course!) Until then, please enjoy the poem I would send if it were mine:
You Know You Must
Love, even when you find the symphony in your throat borrowed, stolen, lost. And stumbling down into blackness you taste the compost from the years, dark raw earth and crawling things from which you cannot turn, run, hide. And you sit in the basement of your life, friendships, denials, remorse caked under your fingernails.
Slowly you gather these scraps and all the auburn sunrises and burnished fields in between. You tie together piece by piece song, summit, sunbeam, threading today with tomorrow and in this quilt, wrap up, warmed, at last, in the life that is yours, the life that can be. --Terresa Wellborn
I spend a lot of time thinking about the big questions of life. The little ones too, like which bread should I buy for making lunch sandwiches this week.
But I spend a lot of my time just thinking. That's one of the drawbacks of not having a "normal" job. During the day, it's just me and my stream of thought, all questions and observations and memories and hopes and lists of goals jumbled up together.
I pretty much talk to myself all the time. Just not aloud.
Like now for instance. Two guys sit at a table directly outside the cafe window near my table. If not for the glass between us, we could be chatting. They are in their thirties and they are both crocheting. I think it is one of the sexiest things I have ever seen. I am so curious. Who are these men who met at the cafe to crochet together? There's all this gender role stuff and foiled expectation and it's just flat out fascinating.
And I hardly even have time to think about it because there's so much more in my own personal stream of thought.
Each person who sits silently in this room with me, each person who walks past this window - they all have their own hopes, dreams, fears. They are all in the middle of their own stories. Are they happy? Sad? Bafffled? How is their progress on the big spiritual journey that we are all on?
I read the results of a survey this week that found that Americans blend religions together to create their own individualized belief systems. Something like 30% of respondents attend services out of their faith, or believe in Eastern or New Age beliefs as well as Christianity.
That's me. I'm currently blending the very conservative system of Seventh Day Adventism with Wiccan beliefs. My family is keeping the Sabbath from sunset to sunset. Yet, my best Christmas present so far is a new deck of luscious Celtic Tarot cards. I can't wait to deepen my reading practice in 2010.
One of my favorite aunts died yesterday. She had been ill a long while, but she was too far away for us to visit her. I am feeling the gap that her passing leaves behind, even in my distant routine, removed from her day to day life. I am sad and okay with it at the same time. For a 40-something, I've spent a lot of time thinking about death. About endings. About transformations and rebirths.
The grief I feel for her loss reminds me of other losses, other griefs, many of which stay remarkably fresh despite the curing effect of time. At the same time, there are so many joys in my life each day, and at Christmas time they are particularly profound.
So joy and grief, ends and restarts - it's just a crazy bowl of eggnog isn't it? Try to sip your drink, and I'll savor mine as well. I wish I could have you all over for a festive Christmas dinner Monday, when we could get pleasantly tipsy and warm and discuss all this next to the glowing fire. Instead, I'll have only a few close friends over, but I'll send love and good thoughts to all the rest of you, my dear readers and internet friends.
Below is an excerpt from my latest writing assignment, a scene I titled Christmas Cheer.
The task was to write a love scene that had presence and emotion while avoiding cliches. You'll find the entire scene at my writing blog Words' Flavors.
Holiday melodies suffused the air. Numerous white bulbs twinkled over the perfume counters, a bit too cheerily for Lacey’s taste, especially when their reflections gleamed off the huge red cellophane bows bursting from every surface. Usually Lacey enjoyed the mall at Christmas time, but this year, tired from dealing with Frank, it all seemed a bit forced. So what if she wasn’t feeling jolly? Wasn’t it enough that she was here to do her shopping and leave some of her hard-earned money behind?
“Why don’t we meet at the mall?” Sam had suggested. “I’m sure there are things you need.”
Remembering that teasing tone, Lacey found herself suddenly grinning. Okay, so she wasn’t here only for the shopping. Lunch with Sam was the big draw, absolutely.
Fiona's blog planting words gives me the term "procks" to type in and validate my comment. Immediately, I begin to imagine. First to mind springs Prufrock and memories of learning Eliot in a shabby classroom of long ago.
Next I see it as an endearment for Pet Rocks. Procks. I like it.
Fiona collects small stones that are really clever, concise writings, as descriptive as haiku. I tend to collect actual stones, picking up small, often nondescript rocks from the park, the beach, the sidewalk as I go about my days.
They spill through my car, on my dresser, across my mantle. I usually don't even remember where they're from exactly, just that each rock spoke to me and wanted to be picked up and carried along for a while. After a bit, I set them free back into the world.
My favorite café will be closing at the end of the month. I’ve been coming here for years, although less often in the last couple. Yet another business lost to the pressure of this no-nonsense economy.
When my daughters were quite young, we would come here together every week. On Fridays, we would get our fruits and vegetables fresh from the Farmer’s Market, then drop in here to eat crispy golden waffles and read picture books I’d brought along. After my older daughter started school, it made for a special outing for B and me.
Now I come here alone, in the midst of errands, and spend some time working and writing. This place has been part of my routines across many changes of the seasons and many parts of my life.
The sister café to this one, in a downtown location, will remain open. They will start selling the delicious waffles. So it’s not exactly a final ending, just a transition.