This was the first song I learned how to play on the guitar.
This was the first song I learned how to play on the guitar.
It’s true I have a thing for small, shiny pieces of Japanese paper. I love them. They’re balanced, neat, delicate and brightly colored. M has been known to take a whole stack and write a word or draw an image and staple them into a little story. Often they just sit in small stacks in drawers or on my desk, but sometimes I like to try to fold. I’ll sit with a thin, delicate, shiny square in my hands and crease, un-crease, fold and smooth, trying to follow the instructions as they skip down their little white path. The more I read this particular story, the more I realized how much was going on, with the little lines and arrows punctuating the drama. It was very exciting. Of course, I couldn’t figure out how to turn my paper into a swan but I started to love the narrative. I think my favorite part is the climax just before the bird unfolds (see below). There’s a little white cloud of excitement and then the swan emerges.
Reading Erica Goldson’s impressive valedictorian speech, which included a scathing and truthful critique of the state of this country’s education system, got me to thinking about how there’s not usually a lot of follow up with these people. We get to hear the, let’s go get ’em speech, but unless they hit the big time, we don’t get to hear what all those valedictorians think after they been around a while. That could be interesting … or not.
My father was the valedictorian of his high school. I never heard or read what he said in that speech, although he did say later that if he had it to do over again, he would have said something different. He was also the valedictorian of his University (okay, top 1%, they didn’t have only one valedictorian). That time he didn’t give a speech but I’d like to share what he wrote about his life for the alumni book 25 years later.
“The thing that made all the difference was doing what I knew was right even though I knew it meant losing my job, which it did. Everything fell into place after that.”
Dr. Donald Finkel
1965 Twenty-Fifth Reunion Class Book and Directory, Yale University
Once upon a time…
I was visiting my grandparents in New York City. I spent quite a bit of time there, and it was with my grandparents that I was introduced to the joys of theater, music and art. When I was six, I saw Yule Brenner in The King and I. With them, I saw a Chorus Line for the first time, went to the opera, and would circle up the ramp at the Guggenheim and eat lunch at the original MOMA.
One day, when I was visiting, I accidentally broke a large, brand new bottle of my grandmother’s perfume. I remember that distinctive and horrible sinking and miserable sensation of awfulness. It seemed, to a child, that impending and irreversible doom must follow a transgression so great and careless, and of such an expensive and precious item. And then, I remember how my grandmother shrugged it off as absolutely no big deal.
She was glad I hadn’t hurt myself. That was the last it was ever mentioned.
That memory is one of the more resonant of my childhood and I recently recalled it again when my daughter accidentally pulled the belt and buttons off my raincoat.
At every accident, there is an occasion to practice my grandmother’s gift of nonchalant forgiveness. It is powerful, and I am grateful be able to pass it on.
Ever read the personals?
People love to say about themselves, “no drama.” They also love to say they are looking for “no drama.”
Yeah, that makes for a really exciting story.
Movies, for example, are a series of obstacles that deepen and complicate until the protagonist hits a low point (end of act 2).
Of course, if there’s anything you can count on in life, it’s complications although some people do generate more drama then other, they seek out. It seems, in fact, like they can’t bear the calm.
When we go to movies (or read) we like to see other people dealing with drama and then with mirror that in our own lives. That’s what we’re there for! Or we’re writers and we use our own lives at inspiration and tells stories about drama, often we dramatize what we’re writing because otherwise the true story would be too boring. Of course in some cases, if you told the true story, no one would believe it. Either way, a story without drama is dull, and perhaps, so is a life.
When people write “no drama” they mean, no bad drama, no tiresome, ongoing complications that never cease, no sub plots or minor character injecting themselves into the main storyline. They mean, I’m a calm, cool collected person with nothing to impede my forward motion.
Good luck with that…
This isn’t exactly the view from my new flat, but you get the idea.
From the first time I saw this view, I hadn’t been able to get it out of my mind, and now, I’m happy to say, I look at it every day.
A friend looked at me a bit askance (but with a smile anyway) when I mentioned the mist wafting over the city and the pink light, and the dreamy, romantic nature of this particular view. Well, yes, I have moved into the city of San Francisco, not just nearby, or just outside, or any of that bay area nonsense. In.
Moving, downsizing, changing, beginning. It was a great, if exhausting process–down the birth canal if you will, and into the new world which has an oft discussed, and decidedly misty look (it’s coming… look on the left…).
Painfully slow broadband speeds, dogged determination by AT&T and a bargain price convinced me to finally upgrade my broadband speed/home system. It did require that I get cable television for six weeks and thus, the my phone/broadband/cable were untited in one fat cord running into a box at the side of my house.
I then spent a weekend watching countless random movies on a combination of 8 temporarily free HBO channels–violating one of the 10 tips of achieving happiness as catalogued by a British study–watch half the amount of TV you’re currently watching. (can’t find the link at the moment. But here’s a different link about happiness tips.)
And so it was that last night, when my united cable failed, so did my phone and internet connection. As I started to look through the papers they gave me about how to program my new voice mail, I saw the myriad warnings about the inability to call 911 if the cable were to fail… which… it did last night.
I have to say, I’ve been very happy with AT&T’s customer service, they’ve been smart and apologetic (if a bit talkative) and they got the service up and running in just under 24 911-unavailable hours.
So, last night, for the first time in a long time, I was broadband-free and not entirely sure what to do with myself. I had 20 minutes of clicking and zooming, watching and surfing withdrawal symptoms after which I ended up playing guitar and house cleaning, and guess what? I felt pretty happy.
I’m not really into co-dependence (more into independence) and I sure felt it when I had home-wide system failure. It took only one old-fashioned evening to seriously think about making my home a cable free zone, a place with a land line, where 911 can always be reached, if necessary.
And of course, in cases of broadband emergency, I’ll always have the iphone.