Monthly Archives: November 2014
A long time ago my college tested us students so we would know what professions to pursue. I scored highest in law and social work and lowest in dietitian and home economics teacher. Since I spent awhile yesterday looking for photos of me preparing Thanksgiving meals or even me in the kitchen and found a total of three, one of which I posted yesterday, the other two which follow, I must admit the test may have been at least partially true.
However I did not become a lawyer either; I did become a social worker but didn’t like it. Forget that test. Writing is what I do. Not great writing. Not saleable writing. Not silly writing. Not bad writing either. Writing. It’s a job. Or anyway I want it to be. However I have one of those 40-hour week jobs already. One I like quite a lot. It is interesting, rewarding for me and actually has meaning for the community.
So then, that must be two jobs. Most of my life has been taken up with two or even three jobs at a time so I’m mostly okay with that. I’ve figured it out—early mornings, some evenings, most weekends for one, 8-5 for the other.
Trouble only arises when a long weekend comes along. I wait anxiously for it to arrive. I make lists that account for every potential writing hour. The evening before I shower, put out my best writing clothes (flannel pajamas for winter/cut-off flannel pajamas for summer), the coffeepot is ready to plug in for that fresh brewed smell and I sleep well.
Morning comes. I’m rested, a hot cuppa in my hand. I freeze…incapable of thinking words, sentences, paragraphs. Instead I think about reorganizing the back porch, how the kitchen shelf needs reinforcement, there’s the Christmas list, old photos to organize for further restoration, unswept front porch, grocery list, light bulbs to replace….
So I’m pretty sure what proves I actually am a writer is that after those thoughts flit through my mind, even making it onto a list, I can actually sit down and write. Cheating a little here as this is my easy blog day and I’m putting off paying attention to that elusive book by writing a—well, yes, silly—morning blog post. Now to the computer to see how much of what I’ve written about my obsessive Norwegianness is actually useable for Part One of Up North.
Morning post, coffee, a lecture on Frost over. Putting a splash (big splash) of Bailey’s in this morning’s last cup of coffee. I mean it is a holiday, right?
I’ve been doing what I said! Organizing projects which get out of control and multiply in stacks of paper and books on every table so I somewhat obsessively rearrange the stack and feel that work has been done and there you have it in one very long sentence.
Almost backed out of the walk until my California son called assuming it was already a done deal—so I put on my sneakers, took my camera and did a turn down by the ponds and the bike path and the Bosque. Very nice. Thanks Scott.
It’s 5:15pm now and feels like a very useful and pleasant time has been had by all. Especially me. I did organize my travel library AND made it almost through Ginsberg. In fact listened to “Howl” just before I went to the river. I really need to hear the lectures on this one. Of course lines and pieces of it are part of the language of our lives but only in small doses. I’ve never studied it in its entirety. What better time than later this evening.
Back later. Here’s the Bosque Thanksgiving afternoon 2014.
Albuquerque New Mexico. Thanksgiving Day 2014. Low 60s predicted. Most of the cottonwoods along the river have shed their leaves so today’s walk will be on a crunchy path through a tawny-brown-gray landscape underneath the brightest of blue skies. I think the river will also be brown and slow as the Rio Grande always is down here—only up in the canyons below Taos is it blue and frisky.
Let’s see if my claim to preferring to spend most typical gathering times alone holds up. I will write now and again throughout the day and try to be very honest about whether FOMA (remember-Fear Of Missing Out) strikes or whether I really am in my natural holiday habitat.
Can I please establish though, right here, right now, that as a peripheral introvert I will grouse and mumble throughout the day because it is how I am. That is not because I want to be in a crowded room with too many people and too much predictable food with the merry sounds of big stupid guys running back and forth on a field to the cheers of their demented followers. Quite the opposite. I grouse because I can.
Although I will admit that if a catering van pulled up about 1PM, raced in, whisked a white linen cloth and heavy silverware into place, placed fresh flowers in the middle, set down a giant bowl of sage-seasoned, celery and onion enriched, butter infused bread stuffing and a pan of buttery cinnamony mashed sweet potatoes with the marshmallows all melted and gold-toasted on top, and poured a nice glass of champagne for me it would be okay.
But in a contest between stuffing and solitude, solitude wins!
Woke up at the usual 5AM. Drinking coffee, engaged immediately in my favorite morning practice—making lists and plans and goals and calendars. They include organizing writing spaces and materials for my next classes; hanging newly framed and/or mounted photos; taking a walk and photographing the brown Bosque; gathering my Norway, Russia, Mongolia, China travel library in one spot; spending time with ModPo poets AND writing this serial post. I’ll be back with a progress report on tasks and mood. Here’s to the periphery.
Next week I’m going to have dinner with my poet-loving, poet friend and I want to be able to speak a coherent word or two about contemporary poetry. So I am back with ModPo this evening, my poetry MOOC from the University of Pennsylvania. It really is quite a brilliant class.
Although one must make a conscious effort not to flop down on the couch and hit ON for a pre-holiday weekend evening of the everlasting pondering of black and white and violence and dead kids. Just shut up, I want to say, we’re a racist society, will we ever deal with that? No? Then admit who we are. Isn’t that an AA thing, acknowledge your problem and then you can deal with it. Not us. America is in a perpetual state of denial. Who me? Racist? Sometimes I truly loath this country. But then where’s the kumbaya land we’re…
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Eddy has a tasty palette prepared in honor of Big Food Day. Look at the whipped cream blending just a little with the chocolate pie. Yum, you know how sweet that is. And just below, there’s the red chile for the mashed potatoes and turkey. Nothing sweet there, just real holiday heat.
It is Thanksgiving Week. Holidaymaking is in the air…and will stay there until real work begins again on Monday morning, January 5, 2015. Oh sure, we’ll all come to work most days between now and then and make art or dance or tell stories or teach or assist or administer. But what will we accomplish? Well, we’ll enjoy each other, and holiday painting and sculpting and drawings will appear to brighten our days. The sounds of music and of Karen singing…
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Minnesota has weather drama. A resident of Minnesota is always anticipating, dreading, reveling in, huddled against, spraying for protection from, practicing ice driving and/or talking about…always talking about…the weather. Most of us don’t have a lot of drama in our lives; we go to work and come home and go back to work and come home and watch TV. So to live in a land with weather is a good thing.
Here’s Minnesota a few winters ago. We’re on a visit to the “Old Place” where we grew up and to the last of those wonderful neighbors where we all ate cake together lo those many years.
I AM VERY SENTIMENTAL ABOUT ALL THIS AS YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED.
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Albuquerque was born on the banks of the Rio Grande and grew up climbing the Sandia Mountains. Now in November it’s cool and sunny down by the river where I live (elevation 4900 feet or so) and cold and sunny up here in the beginning of the foothills where son Steven and family live (over 6000 feet high). So why aren’t we called the Mile High City? Because we are the Duke City, after the Duke of Alburquerque (spelling intentional) from Spain or Portugal. I think.
Steven is spending the weekend in Portland, Oregon where Michele sometimes works so I’m hanging out with Sara the Cheerleader here at home…her home last night, then my home tonight, then her home before Monday morning school. We’ll journey back and forth through the climates of Albuquerque—from my Tingley Beach ducks to bear-spotting up here in the wilds of the Heights as this part of town with its mostly Anglo population, a bigger middle-class and more Republicans is called.
I am not so fond of the Heights. It lacks character; no flavor of a New Mexico almost equally divided between its Anglo and Hispanic citizenry, or the strong presence of the original Native American New Mexicans. Even the small but active African American population doesn’t seem present up here. It is, as I said, very white, very middle-class, very conservative. I’m happy to say my kids are among the Democratic minority up here. Still they like it and my granddaughters have had the benefit of some of the better public schools in Albuquerque—and better cheerleading squads!
I prefer the Valley. My granddaughter asks, “Why do you live in the ghetto, grandma?” Really, dear? Property values in my ‘ghetto’ are higher than most of the uptown blocks. But our downtown scruffiness is more obvious. And charming in its own way. We are seriously multi-cultural downtown/Old Town…more rich people (out along the Rio Grande a little farther), more poor people, more Latinos, Native Americans, gays, Democrats, artists, homeless people, more…us.
Watching ABC Family and “Holes.” It’s what one does with the granddaughter that’s still a mid-teen and lounging about between cheering for the game last night and going to practice this afternoon. Besides I quite like “Holes.” She was going to watch “Gray’s Anatomy” but fortunately could not get Netflix to work this morning. I’m not sure I could handle that…watched for a season years ago but it did not grow on me like “Orange is the New Black” for example.
Now it’s evening. We’ve had a fine Whole Foods dinner. Pasta, a roasted happy chicken, Cranberry baguette and oatmeal raisin cookies. And back to TV. “The Hunger Games,” which I’ve missed until now. I do like Jennifer Lawrence finally but am not at all enamored of the film. Didn’t think I would be but with so much attention there was always the possibility.
So that’s today.
Whatever anyone says, and however many problems they have, the New York Times is still the most reliable overall source of news around. It arrives on my doorstep (or nearby) faithfully every morning, sometimes to be read right then, sometimes that evening and sometimes not all week.
I cannot bear to throw those un- or partially read papers away though until I’ve at least skimmed them—what if a most astounding piece of information—that I needed to know—never reached my eye.
Last week for example, I found a story in the Thursday Home section about the bathroom habits of the rich and famous who occupy Manhattan’s skyscrapers. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” Yes, they are if we can judge them by their bathrooms. Of course these bathrooms must be the exception or they wouldn’t have warranted a…
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Although I claim not to like most (maybe all) holidays there are some aspects of holiday-making that are quite wonderful. Not going to work and candied sweet potatoes and bread stuffing are the main ones.
There are also those few wonderful hours at the at the heart of a celebration when the whole world is quiet…but then Black Friday or the Peace-On-Earth Christmas Evening Blowout or the Christ-Arose Easter Night Shopping Marathon kicks in. Or alternately the crack of heads and clang of beer cans as football practices its tacky magic on America’s psyche.
Actually, for peripheral introverts there is virtually nothing besides being off work and the sweet potatoes and stuffing that is meaningful about holiday celebrations as they currently exist.
Peripheral Introverts aren’t necessarily grumpy, even though we occasionally seem that way! I, for example, have holiday plans which will not involve big groups, worrying about money, feeling depressed or eating too much—although I will continue to miss my mother because that’s what I do on special occasions.
In fact I have plans for my own holidays which only a few of my closest family, friends and comrades will be invited to share. But more about all that later.
The purpose of today’s post is really to introduce this new series which will be brought to you throughout The Big Winter Shopping Event called Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year. The Holiday Report will alternate Coming of Age posts, all intended to cheer you up by talking about excessive spending and old age. After all I was not put on this earth for happy chatter and sugar plum dancing.