I am hungry, again, to read, partly seeing the onset of summer, and partly just because I miss it. I’m in The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and finding the layers of comment on the religious life fascinating. Having been somewhat cloistered myself in a fundamentalist community I am connecting with the monastic life and characters in Umberto’s book. And vocabulary beyond a struggling second grader’s is refreshing.
Also on my night stand is The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which is my downtown women’s book club selection for June. I’m hosting and will get to do a cuisine connection to the book. Besides I think the salon era of Paris in the ’20’s is fascinating.
Another read I’m wading into, much less literary but daunting, is the K-5 Performance Assessments from Lucy Calkins new Common Core Units of Study. Besides reading it, my writing task will be to take it down to a level my small school district can adopt.
It will be good to finish Good Prose: The art of nonfiction before the summer intensive institute begins. The other night Kidder or Todd wrapped up a chapter with such a gem I wanted to pause and sleep in it and think about it during my days. It’s the end of the chapter titled “Art and Commerce and they’re quoting David Foster Wallace via his NY memorial.
“The novelist Zadie Smith quoted him as having said,”…the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies somewhere in the art’s heart’s purpose: the agenda of the consciousness behind the text. It’s got something to do with love. With having th disciline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love, instead of the part that just wants to be loved.”
Any my co-director friend put a book in my hand when I left the planning meeting at her house. I have loved every book Nancy has ever recommended. This is Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
Quite a feast, especially for me not being a speed reader and one who is savoring the time spent with well crafted words, ideas, characters to follow into meaning and places to connect with myself having nothing to do with my day gig.
On the construction wall by SJSU M.A. students, The Dirty Brushes Club, painted reproductions of artist’s self-portraits, collectively titled, “Better Than Blue.” Each painting, about 4′ X 4′ portrays not only the unique persona of an artist, but also expresses an essence of the artist’s style.
I believe this image is after Modigliani with the characteristic tilt of the head and elongated, elegantly sad expression.
The late afternoon sun on plywood offers a weave that makes our Modigliani look more Asian, and the play of shafts of light over the face highlight the down pull that makes me think of sorrow, of prison camps, of missing a home country.
Someone well bred and cultured has held onto a quiet dignity during a time of humiliation. The sun and boards talk of time and aging but there’s a youthfulness to the flesh on the man’s face, almost Geisha-like. A refinement that contrasts with roughness.
I like to think that Mr. Modigliani would like this photo of the M.A. student’s portrait of his self-portrait. He might enjoy the thrice remove of it all, with something true about his personality holding through every transition.
I wonder how much the painting club learned from imitating the many modern artists they reproduced on the wall, Better Than Blue.
I keep stepping up a bit more trying on my big girl shoes, taking on more challenging tasks. And wanting to grow to trust my judgment, rather than be so servile to my people pleasing nature.
Setbacks are sure to come, and a few arrived today. I was humbled back to my you-sure-blew-it child self by a new set of projection SmartBoard systems — and cowed into abjection by an iMovie project I left initializing on its own losing clips and creating some kind of loop for the replay. Having the sound come on loud and clear after the session was over made frisse’ out of my nerves.
I looked at and rehearsed aloud the things that went well today — trying to stave off the sense that I was a flop…no worse, that I was in Deep Trouble, but the glitches and puzzlements seemed to outweigh the good stuff. I wanted everything to go perfectly because I felt like my colleague and I had been entrusted with our director’s “baby.” Like when the parents come home and find that the babysitter hasn’t managed everything the way it was on the list. Not good. I felt like I wasn’t equal to what should have been a straightforward task – and to an orientation that has previously run rather smoothly. Well, it wasn’t on purpose the things that happened but I’m responsible. A person not on the final list showed up and insisted she had been accepted into the institute. To err on the side of gracious we had to take her word but it was weird. And another did not show and couldn’t be reached by phone and I worried. And how I wish I’d had an hour or two to rehearse in that new high tech room and not run off to school the other morning letting iMovie initialize my project without supervision.
The detail of the day will be forgotten and the people things will get sorted out. Communication and clarity. Meanwhile, I am perturbed that I give myself such a hard time when things don’t go to my expectations. Why does it take so long to have the disappointment wear off? Am I waiting for absolution?
Maybe I should remember that when little girls put on mama’s heels sometimes they fall on their face.
The winter before last I wrote myself out of a funk with the prompt, “What I really want…”
While I composed the letter to myself, my middle ached and I became weepy. When ever did I even ask this question for myself? My six decades had been about what others wanted.
Writing long and hard about what hurt gave me clarity: I pursued the new job as an interventionist, planned a trip to France, spent more time with my grown daughters, tried again to date available men, and bought a convertible. I shifted my erroneous question, “What do I have to look forward to?” over to the heart search, “What do I really want?”
Driving to work one morning I also realized that I had viewed my foreshortened future through a distorted lens. I was striving for what I could accomplish that would be worthy to make up for the many shortcomings of my life. When I looked at my thoughts, I had to ask, “Who’s keeping score?”
Now, again, I feel that settling of the brain, and the mind weariness of the end of a school term. I’ve been placed as an interventionist again. I’m grounded from travel to finish a major electrical/insulation project on my bungalow. Tonight I just helped my daughter buy a low-miles Camry so she has wheels that work.
The purple sands at Pffiefer. Those strands that show in the ebbing tide. Those thoughts I think in between the humdrum and the full tilt teaching schedule…always feeling the pull of creative impulse, but no set discipline. Wanting to write but lacking purpose. The inevitable creative turnover that happens in my teaching life; wanting to capture the best and reinvent myself for next season.
What do I want? I want my family and friends to know I love them. I want my colleagues to respect me. I want to make new friends. I want a loving relationship with a man who is over his childhood issues. I want to finish my bungalow so it is comfy especially when my mom wants to live here. I want to know when I can afford to retire. I want to go back to France. I want to take risks…and follow my intuition.
on champagne waves
the unspoken snap of knowing
an event is at hand
in the snowsoft they came
one then the other
tentative in the rose light
the deer whispered down the dune
blending in sundown lace pines
their unseen presence came into my laughter
effervescent waves and waning sun
were outshadowed by the miracle of tenderness
a deep silent surprise crackled in me
ice light on the ocean
serenely unrelenting in constant motion
she’s the perfect limb
the poised senses of the wary
she’s the ecstatic soundless step into the open
the mottled fawn brushing past
my gentle one
my sunset hush
I’m filled with splashing surf in loving you
go gently perfect peace
i love you
Laura Romaine 4/81
the cow kitty and I,
when my realtor
showed his house —
he checked me out
the hood is his
several blocks of it
the story of how
the cat came back
to be mine is
part of his charm.
with a squeaky falsetto meow.
whines about hot weather
loves tuna water tea
Mickey gives me
in my closet
he gives me
reasons to open cans
warmth on the blankets
in the chilly dawn
he emerges from
under the honeysuckle
when my car drives up
Mickey rolls in the dirt
in cat love
from the kitchen sink
in the catnip
water and chases
from the hose
he walks among us
and parks in the kitchen
when the party starts
when I sit on the front porch
for cool air
he takes the other rail
when I work in the garden
he sleeps there
when I take a road trip
he comes back over the fence
telling me not
to go away again.
black and white
Maybe I write because I watch. I’m an observer who frames scenes, a mental photographer, would-be painter. Art takes time. I work day gig, so flash memoir appeals to me.
Not a line. I’d rather look at the flowers in the yard
Or prop my feet on the couch in the sun going down
My brain was all abuzz with details of the day
That have numbed me.
My muscles are tired from a long walk
And my cat disconcerted that we are out of tuna water tea.
Maybe this is normal.
What folks mean when they say they’re tired.
Like the pacing tiger
walking off screen
I have sought, talked
I gave to my mother, my sisters and remembered my brother
I wrote with strangers this week
and I communed with the stars and my garden.
Tonight I danced, and made two 7-letter words in Scrabble
tossed down a champagne
Now I’m ready for the final day of the work week.