Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt

I am doing it. The ultimate sacrifice. In the name of a lighter load, I am purging my t-shirt collection. Now, to be fair, I believe I have done this a few times before, as many of my t-shirts seem to have disappeared, but it is never easy.

Have you ever thought about the story of your life as it is told through fashion? Well, obviously we all go through trends and stages of fashion in our life. But, since I avoid the camera and haven’t really kept up with fashion trends (or really shopped for myself) for a long time, I can’t share that story here. I can, however, share part of my story as it is told through t-shirts. So join me through a trip down memory lane.

Perhaps the oldest t-shirt in my collection is this beauty from Fitzwilly’s in Northampton, MA, one of my favorite restaurants from my undergraduate college days at Smith.

Bought at Fitzwilly's ca. 1990

If I Tell You What It Means Will You Buy Me A Drink (Back of Fitzwilly's t-shirt)

Next we skip a few years (I don’t know what happened to t-shirts from Japan) and head to Hawaii, for adventures galore.

I got this at Sea Life Park in Hawaii the week after I graduated with my MFA from the University of Hawaii. For complicated reasons this t-shirt meant more than my diploma at the time.

I love this t-shirt given to me when my dear friend Nancy visited me in Hawaii from Japan. I hope she visits me in Mass., or better yet, I get to visit her in Japan someday.

We bought this on Maui, when Nathan finally admitted that he didn't really want to see anyone else. (For more on that story see the post called "Stumbling into Romance"

From Hawaii, we skip another few years to my doctoral program. Nathan and I got married in Hawaii, while I was in the middle of a doctoral program at Arizona State University. 7 months later, he moved to Vermont for work and I stayed in Arizona to finish up my dissertation.  I did research at three different professional companies for Young Audiences: Childsplay in Tempe, AZ; Dallas Children’s Theater; and my favorite Metro Theatre Company in St. Louis, MO (a company I learned about during the year before I started at ASU when we lived nearby.

I think we bought this t-shirt when we were in Hawaii to get married. It is dyed with chocolate (Yum) and smelled like chocolate for a while.

I spent a wonderful week or so at Metro, observing, interviewing and helping during their summer education program called Arts Intersection.

Move forward again, to our time in Vermont. We both taught. I directed, and I started a children’s theater company which didn’t survive much past my time there, as we had to move on.

Short lived, but well loved.

"Life is Good" when you live near enough to the Ben & Jerry factory for a tour.

For some reason I don’t have any t-shirts from the next stop on our living tour, Durango, CO. I guess I never bought any or didn’t keep them. I do have one from the first summer as a family at Okoboji Summer Theater, which happened while we lived in Durango.

And that brings us to the present. A t-shirt filled year in Independence, KS

I wonder what my next t-shirt will be. What is the t-shirt story of your life?

The Balance of the Detail

When I created my little award the other day, I sparked an interesting discussion on the role of detail in writing.

So, for the sense of clarity, I’m going to go a little more into detail about what I meant. ;)

I’m not arguing for long, drawn out passages of purple prose that try to paint a picture for the reader that would be better done through a visual. Nor am I arguing for sentences that wrap words around each other in a complex convolution that ultimately has no meaning or does not move the story forward. I’m the first person to skim through those verbose passages as my inner vision never matches the description anyway. I will put down a book that tries so hard to be linguistically beautiful that the author says nothing with a lot of words.

No, the magic details that I referred to are those simple details that bring a story or a passage to life. Those details could be expressed in a few words, but with those few words an entire character/place/emotion comes to life. Those are the details that I want to learn to weave more strongly into my own writing.

I’ve been reading argument paper drafts this morning. One of my students wanted to argue about gay marriage, and why it should be allowed. Now, I obviously support gay marriage, but this particular student’s paper was completely unconvincing. The only argument he used was the fact that in  America “every man is created equal.” He kept repeating this argument throughout the paper, until he threw in a list I’ve seen before of sarcastic arguments about why gay marriage should not be allowed. (He also did not cite the list properly, but that’s a whole different issue).  We all know that our country doesn’t  really practice what it preaches, and gays are not the only ones who suffer because of it. So, without more details, his argument suffered because it wasn’t really an argument, it was a rant.

That’s my problem, rants without support. Rants without details.

As I was thinking about this post this morning (since about 4 am when insomnia struck again) I remembered a poem I wrote a while back that I haven’t really shared. Why? Because this poem came from the details around me, and I think those details support its meaning. It is not perfect, but I thought I would share. I am putting this in as a PDF, since I can never figure out how to make the formatting on my poems work.:

HOUSE OF BITTERNESS

So, to sum it all up, don’t worry that I am going to bore you with long, detailed descriptions of meaningless drivel. My challenge to myself is to learn to  perfect my use of  details, not to abuse them.

Finally I will share with you a couple of images I am stealing borrowing from my brother, because I love the details.

Artists vs. Zombies

 

“Feed me brains!”

Zombie Sam from terror4fun.com

The Zombie Leader lumbers towards an unsuspecting group of people who blithely go about their business reading, writing and creating. The Zombie Leaders intent to devour their energy and independent wills does not seem to faze them, until he makes his way to each one devouring brains and creating more zombies.

The Zombie leader does not discriminate when it comes to brains, but he especially enjoys feasting on young minds because of their potential to absorb energy and ideas at an overwhelming rate. Catch them young, he thinks, and they will never learn, grow, or threaten my Zombie Kingdom. Of course, he doesn’t really think this with as much insight as that. Really, his thought process is limited to “Brains!” but inside he knows that destroying a thinking, creative populace is what has made him strong and will make him more powerful.

Caught by this creature’s never-ending lust for domination and power, the young people turn into zombies quickly because they have yet to learn how to defend themselves from his overwhelming control.  As his army of brainless drudges grows, the Zombie King gains power over event those who have the skills to protect themselves and others from him. Why? Because these creative people often get so absorbed in their individual projects that they don’t sense his putrid, decaying presence until it is too late.

The more creative energy one zombie can devour, the higher in the ranks of the zombie world he/she rises. And with that strength comes more power and control over the ever-growing army of mindless drones and crucial elements of society which would help the diminishing group of rebels continue to fight the good fight.

But here’s the secret that they don’t understand (if they understood anything, which is a challenge when your brains are in someone else’s stomach):

Zombies cannot exist without artists!

Yes folks. Artists created zombies . We drew them, designed them, wrote stories about them. And while we focused on creating them, they grew stronger and more powerful. They grew to resent us, and their thoughts began to focus on our destruction. They exist because we gave them life,which suggests that we have the power to destroy them.

But I don’t think destruction is the answer. No! As artists our power comes from creation, not destruction. So, if we want to defeat the zombies and protect the creative minds of young and old alike, we must use of the power of our art itself. We must wield our pens, brandish our paint brushes, strengthen our words, mix our colors, build our connections, sing our songs, pronounce our monologues, grow or gardens, dance our dances, create our puppets, share our knowledge, and dream our dreams.

The zombies will try every trick they can–including destroying the foundations of equality and justice. They will attempt to suck the brains out of anyone, especially a leader, who leans towards valuing something other than power and money.

But in the end they will lose because artists never die–we live behind our words, our pictures, our songs, our sculptures, our ideas, and the power of our dreams. We are even capable of turning zombies back into fully functioning humans, or, at the very least rainbows. All it takes is a sprinkle of fairy dust and a lot of hard work.

Artists can rule the world!

The American Dream in Reverse

I’ve always wanted to own my own home. I have now owned two. But I no longer own a home as of today.  Neither houses were dream homes (although the first was pretty awesome) but they were mine.

The house in the snow. I won't miss that part. Goodbye Colorado home.

[Well, sort of as of today, since the money hasn't appeared in my bank account yet. Grrrr!]

Anyway, while I know it was the best thing, having to sell the house was bittersweet. Why? Because I haven’t found a new home yet. No, I’m not homeless. We just haven’t found the place we want to settle in, the place where we will all feel comfortable living. I’m not just talking about the physical location, but the community, the town, the state or maybe even the country.

It is also bittersweet because I don’t know if or when we will ever be able to afford to buy a house again.

But, there is a positive side to this. What, I am calling “The American Dream in Reverse.” See, while we did not make as much money on the sale as we had hoped, and technically lost money (because of an evil sale that fell through last summer after the buyers insisted on fixing the house which ended up on our credit card) but we still made some money. And, once we see it, I will pay off our credit card debt and put the rest into savings.

I like a credit card balance of $0.00.

The only people we will owe money to now are Nathan’s parents, who helped us out with maintaining two homes this year while taking a huge cut in income. I’m going to write a nice big check to them as well, and then pay back in increments as we are able. Great rates (0%) and no time limit, but I want to pay them back asap.

Still, I’m not a fool, and I’m putting the majority in savings to make some interest. Perhaps we will even invest it in some way. And then, since a  major move does not seem imminent from our current location, we will save money. We are switching rentals to help with that, and moving into a place that is giving us free reign to paint and decorate as we see fit–to turn it into a comfortable home. And as we save, we will make plans.

A new American dream.

If all works well, next year we will move on. Of course, I’d prefer to move with a job in hand, but if not maybe we can just take a chance and follow our hearts. Maybe we can find a place that calls to us and simply pursue our dreams. I know it won’t be easy, and that we will never be rich, but I am beginning to realize that happiness and fulfillment are worth pursuing, even if they are not easy.

So, maybe not owning  a home will be my key to a new American Dream, one that suits us all  better than the one that has failed us so painfully.

Who knows what the future brings?

Birthday Wishes

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...

Image via Wikipedia

I am reposting this birthday post from last year, because I think I should.

I don’t know what it is about March 14th but I know more people born on that day (myself included) than any other day of the year. It has never really just been my birthday, since I was born on my cousin’s sweet 16–which completely freaks me out when I do the math. One of my closest friends in college had the same birthday as well, which led to interesting celebrations involving kidnappings and late night diner adventures. On Facebook alone I have four friends celebrating their birthday today (the college friend included). Happy birthday to us all.

And of course, we are not alone, as there are numerous historical figures of all types who were born on this day, perhaps the most famous of which is Albert Einstein in 1879. I share my actual birthday with actress Megan Fellows who performed in Anne of Green Gables which is one of my favorite books and mini-series. There are also plenty of historical events including war and peace, joy and sadness.

But, let’s face it, the reason the day is important to me is because it is my birthday.

I admit, though, that I have a slight dread of birthdays now, as the years pile on and life becomes harder in some ways. I know that the looming date of my birthday has influenced the past week of posts, and I apologize for the kind of general gloom and doom of my recent posts.

But, I have decided ENOUGH OF THAT! I am going to chase those birthday blues away by putting some fabulous birthday wish energy out into the universe! It’s my birthday, I can wish what I want to. And what better place to do that then into the blogosphere?

The combined wish energy of all the people born today has potential power. So today, I am going to make birthday wishes for every year of my life–not just selfish wishes, but wishes that I hope will bring some wonderful things to this world. In case you are dying to know, that means 43 wishes. That’s a lot of wishes I think. I am not listing them in any particular order of priority, I just want to put that wish energy out there in the universe and see what happens. I recognize that some of my wishes are nearly impossible, but if we all put power behind our wishes maybe we can change the world.

Emma Thomson, Felicity wishes

So here goes:

  1. I am putting this one first because it is the most immediate. I hope that all goes well with my friend Elizabeth’s custody hearing today and her wonderful boys remain with their intelligent, beautiful, talented Mom.
  2. May the pain and suffering caused by natural disasters worldwide (especially in Japan now) bring this world closer to recognizing that we have to help and support each other rather than thrive on hatred and war. May the survivors be helped swiftly and gracefully. (Does that count as two wishes? I don’t think so.)
  3. I wish that Nathan, Sarah, and I could find the place/job/situation that we really want to call home soon (as in during this coming year).
  4. I wish that all of us with dreams of publishing find homes for our manuscript babies.
  5. I wish that my blogging family continue to grow and support each other, and create opportunities to meet, to create, and to expand our relationships.
  6. I wish that the government would come to its senses and leave women’s rights alone, embrace marriage equality for all, and support programming (such as the arts) that will strengthen our country, our educations system, and our health care. [This is probably my most unrealistic wish, I know ;) ]
  7. I wish that discoveries would be made to help bring my father back to us, even if only for a short time.
  8. I hope my whole family stays healthy this year.
  9. I wish that I could continue the path towards becoming healthier and getting control over my own weight. I would like to not have to be on medication for my whole life, so I want to lose weight, exercise and eat right to enrich the life of my entire family.
  10. I hope that Sarah embraces whatever changes may come, and learns to love the friends she has and live in the Now.
  11. I wish for puppets, lots and lots of puppets.
  12. I wish that Nathan and I could take that trip to Ireland that we have been wanting to take. And that all three of us can take a real vacation together somewhere fabulous.
  13. I wish that all the people I have met recently who are searching for their purpose or some change in their lives can find their bliss and create a world that fulfills them.
  14. I hope that I can write another novel without second guessing myself.
  15. I wish that Tori Nelson would get book contract and mention me on the acknowledgments page. :)
  16. I hope that my dissertation writing friends complete their dissertations, graduate with glory, and then move on to discover whatever it is they really want to do. :)
  17. I hope my brother is able to pursue his passions and find his way to move forward.
  18. I wish I could create a really beautiful piece of art. I’m not sure what kind, but I want to create something really wonderful.
  19. I wish I could have a weekend at a spa, treating myself to peace, quiet and massage.
  20. I wish that I could organize my time better, to allow for more time to read, to write, to create and to spend with my family.
  21. I wish for some fabulous adventures of all types with my family, including some adventures abroad.
  22. I wish whatever was plaguing my e-mail would be fixed soon [perhaps the easiest wish to solve]
  23. I know that it is unrealistic to wish nothing sad would happen over the coming year, but I hope the times of joy are more numerous than the times of sadness.
  24. I wish we could sell our house in Durango . . . SOON!
  25. I wish that I could have a house that I am allowed to decorate again, the way I would like to.
  26. I wish I could have a reunion with all my Durango friends who I miss so much.
  27. I wish that I could reunite with other friends that I have been thinking about a lot lately.
  28. I wish Sarah would embrace happiness.
  29. I would like a slice of my mother’s chocolate cake.
  30. I hope that we can get my older dog’s health issues under control so that we find fewer poop balls lying around the house.
  31. I wish that I would figure out my new dreams soon, so that I could then make them happen.
  32. I wish the economy would be better so that the unemployed will find employment.
  33. I wish for books, lots and lots of fabulous books.
  34. I wish that, as I lose more weight, I can finally begin developing my style again–a style all my own I’m sure, but one that I would like to have.
  35. I wish Jasper, my younger dog, would realize that home is better than running away.
  36. I wish I could ride a horse.
  37. I wish Sarah could ride a horse.
  38. I wish Sarah and I could take a mother-daughter belly dance class together.
  39. I wish I could learn to meditate, or at least find more inner peace.
  40. I wish to be “Furiously Happy.”
  41. I wish the war would end, and no more wars would begin.
  42. I wish for a warm cup of chai every day.
  43. I wish I could take more naps.

Wow! It was actually really difficult to think up 43 wishes. But its my birthday, and I can wish if I want to.

What do you wish for?