Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Green Beans and Gratitude

Okay, well...I've carried about twenty bags of groceries into my house, cut more onions than I care to think about, shoved more stuff in my oven than it's seen in months, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet! And...I'm not the one who's having Thanksgiving this year! 
Thanksgiving is a mega-event with two huge Irish families coming together (the pre-birth control set). In the old days, pre-microwaves, they did all of this with six/seven kids running around. TV was black and white and they had no childcare either...they couldn't even toss a dvd in to occupy those ankle-biters! Wait, I was one of those ankle-biters...well, not in one of these households. I grew up in a NJ household, this is a Northern Westchester crew. I was of the shanty-Irish variety, although my father would have none of that. To him, we were just as "white curtain Irish" as any other! But we were always told to mind our manners, or the neighbors would think we were no better than shanty Irish. On a visit to County Mayo, the home of my mother, I found out that they had no knowledge of that saying...or perhaps they wanted no part of it, I wasn't sure about that. Their silence made me think about it anyway. I've never used that expression again, until now anyway. I began to respect what that expression really means to the many who starved over there in the "old country."
For now, we're living off the fat of the land...literally! I do LOVE Thanksgiving. What could be better than coming together one more year to stuff our faces, share our stories, and celebrate all the ages and stages, the face of the good life? So, it's back to the green bean casserole, and oh yeah...the creamed onions for Grandpa too.  Nothing new, only the familiar. This is the only time all year that I can honestly say I will be opening a can of Campbell's mushroom soup. Have you ever wondered about that wobbly white stuff inside that can? I sure have! But for now...for the sake of tomorrow, it's all good. (And Dad...I will be sure to mind my manners too!)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Writing for Life

I sometimes wonder what I would do in life if I couldn't put my thoughts down on the page...well, really the screen. Having just finished another great session with Pat Giff, and spending the evening hanging out with my writing friends, I realize that this is how I want to spend the rest of my life! Funny how it took me over half a decade to claim that, but there it is. My favorite time of day comes at 5:30 in the morning, when often a few leftover stars, a small lamp, and a computer screen are the only lights in my home. My coffee cup sits next to me and this time of year, I've got my small woolen blanket which came straight from Ireland (Foxford Mills) over my lap...of course, I'm still in my pj's and my eyelids are half-open. But...I've heeded the words of Stephen King, who mentioned the fact that the brain is trained to dream at night (although I don't often sleep after reading his fiction), so I've trained my brain to write in the mornings. I've finally given in, and done what Pat Giff has told me to do for so long. This is so counter-intuitive for me, really. I've never claimed to be a morning person. I write at this hour before my crazy brain gets cluttered with all the ideas that crowd it in planning for eleven and twelve year olds or the politics of work, or even the random needs of the world around me. I've always had that before school anxiety...after all, that job requires constant preparation and attention to detail. But now, my right brain starts my day...and that, for me, brings peace. That is how in the past two years, Thin Skinned and now Walking on Eggshells have found their way out of my head and into the world. Mornings are now, for me, a little slice of heaven.