Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I've Done It Again!

I don't know how I manage it, but I have a tremendous knack for catastrophically injuring myself in the smallest of ways. Okay, perhaps this time it isn't catastrophic...or it is, but only relatively speaking.

I've sprained my ankle. Again. (Witnesses report that when this information was communicated to my family via word of mouth after I told my mother over the phone this weekend--prior to when they witnessed the watermelon-foot hybrid in all its glory--that my brother-in-law reported asked: "Did she fall off a Trax train again?")

No, indeed. This time I just...fell. On the way from my front door to my ride's car door. Apparently, the street and I aren't seeing...foot to ground. I had almost successfully reached the car when all of a sudden, I found myself not quite standing anymore. And with a decided pain in my foot.

But on the bright side: I now have something fascinating to watch. I'm intrigued by how swollen it gets. I'm intrigued by how many colors it turns. And I'm especially intrigued that I can press into the swollen part with my finger...and then watch the indentation stay for a few minutes.

Also, I'm glad this didn't happen while the weather was nice.

It's been four and a half years since I fell off the Trax train, so I suppose I might've been overdue for an injury. Here's hoping it will be another four and a half years before I break myself further.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What I Learned While Writing a Story for My Nephew

In my creative writing classes, they always told us to write with a specific audience in mind. I never quite knew what to do with that advice back then. Then--and now--I would dearly like to write a story that appeals to a wide audience. And I couldn't conceive of writing to one single person until I received a text from my sister the other day.

The text simply sent her new mailing address and indicated that my oldest nephew wanted mail for his birthday--letters, cards, and whatnot. I'm mailing him a package (books, of course, no surprise there), but I found myself taken with the idea of writing something to send to him. Except that when I thought about what type of letter I'd write to a seven-year-old boy...I found myself well and truly stumped.

My sister--my wise and wonderful older sister--suggested he would be delighted if I wrote him a silly story. The sillier the better, or so I hear. Apparently he has reached a phase in his life where not much is ever serious and where he cannot sustain a whole phone conversation with my mom or dad without doing something ridiculous.

Anyhow. I found it incredibly easy to write that story. And do you know why I found it so easy? I know him.

When I sit down and start writing a story for the innumerable and faceless masses, I find myself inevitably cringing and backing away from the computer screen. Nothing seems good enough. Nothing seems wide-reaching enough. Nothing seems as likeable as it should.

But when I'm writing for one little munchkin: it's easier to focus. I know how silly I can get. I know how serious I can get. And if the story arc isn't exactly perfect, well, it's okay. He'll forgive me. He's seven. He'll just be glad he got mail.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Enjoy the Smudgy

Lately, I'll readily admit that I've found myself wishing I lived in a fairy tale. Not, mind you, because I want to be some kind of powerless damsel-in-distress. Not, either, because I want a prince to happen by on his trusty steed and literally sweep me off my feet. Not because I have any problems with wardrobe, or with other people, or with anything else.

Sometimes I just wish that everything really were that simple. Good guys wear white. Bad guys wear black. No doubt as to who will be hero and who will be villain.

But really, what makes the world so interesting is that it's...smudgy.

I often find myself explaining to people that my favorite heroes are not those who are SO pure of heart and SO above it all that they manage to save the day. Those heroes: they aren't relatable. I'm not always pure of heart. And I'm certainly not above it all. If anything, most of us are always in the thick of it.

What, then, am I to like about someone who seems so much better than I am? (I inevitably end up hating the purest-hearted heroes. They're insufferable. And they're boring.)

The smudgy. I relate to the smudgy. They don't always have pure motivations, and they don't always know what they're doing, and dagnabit, they're fascinating.

I suppose the lesson must be: fairy tales are simple, and we like them that way. But we like them because we know they aren't real. Real=smudgy, smudgy=good.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Say You Want a Resolution?

I like the idea of New Year's resolutions. New year, new start, new beginnings, new ways...maybe even new you. And in theory, resolutions are great. They're wonderful at providing aims, at voicing accomplishments, at saying, "Hey, world, look here. This is what I'd dearly love to accomplish this year. And please try your best not to get in the way of my accomplishments, thank you very much."

Yes, indeed. The idea of resolutions is good.

But as is the case with almost everything in life--with the exception (in most instances) of how to put on one's pants--the idea and the practice are more than a little bit different.

My resolutions invariably become a laundry list of things I want to be better at and things I want to do better at. And all of a sudden, I find myself at some point in the middle of January wondering exactly what I like about myself. Perhaps that sounds a little extreme, but sometimes I make resolutions and realize I've done nothing but list what I feel are my failings in some strange, inverted way.

Last year I resolved to say yes to more stuff more often...and to be honest, I don't know if I've said no more in my life than I did in the past year. Some of it was necessary no-ing. But some of it...was just me kind of being a chicken.

It's that whole theory-and-practice quandary: yes, in theory, I'd love to be more outgoing. I'd love to be in the best shape of my life, to play the guitar, to travel outside the country, to write a novel, to actually list a publication. I'd love to be entirely reliable, to be always happy, to exercise all necessary follow-through to make all of these things I'd love to do and be come to life.

But it's hard. And yes, I suppose that's me whining a little bit. But it's nevertheless true. Change isn't as easy as putting on my pants. What's easy is gliding along comfortably in familiar patterns. I once said that I felt Anne-like, but these days, I'm afraid I go far too often without flying or thud.

So if I'm to make a resolution this year, I feel that the most honest one to make would be this: I resolve to actually make effort to change. And I permit failures. All sorts of failures.