7Quick Takes Friday (vol. 159)
You don’t even know the writer angst I spare you. I could have an entire blog where I wrote three posts per day transcribing the mercurial inner dialogue that runs through my head whenever I sit down to work on this book project.
I’ve been pondering the age-old question of why even the most basic creative pursuits tend to make people crazy. As Steve Pressfield would say, part of it is undoubtedly spiritual attack. But I think there’s also a natural frustration that comes with not being able to control your way into success. For example, if you have a vision of building a simple bridge across a small river, you can get it done. As long as you’re willing to learn and work hard, you’ll achieve your goal of having a way to get from one side of the river to another. But with anything involving the arts, it’s a different story. If a musician has a vision of creating a beautiful song, he may or may not be able to do it. Hard work and learning can certainly help, but they’re no guarantee that he’ll reach his goal of making something beautiful. I think it’s the unpredictable nature of alchemy behind creating decent art that makes it so maddening sometimes.
My toddler made me this sweet gift at our parish preschool. It’s one of those keepsake sheets where the teachers ask the kids about their parents and then record the funny answers. Her sister did one of these last year, and I noticed that there was something different about this one:
On the old form, there were questions about what Mommy likes to eat and drink. When I saw the line “My mommy likes to drink ______”, I was relieved to see the delightfully unremarkable beverage milk written down…but I kind of wondered how many tries it took to get that answer. The question is now off the sheet entirely, and I have this vision that it started with a staff meeting after the last time they did this project, the teachers complaining that the kids kept coming back with stuff like “scotch on the wocks.”
I met a new neighbor recently, and when I told her where we lived, she exclaimed, “Oh, you’re the homeschoolers!” It chills me to consider that we are the very embodiment of what it means to homeschool to the good people of our block. I tried to explain that there are all different types of homeschoolers, that we were already weird even before we took our kids out of elementary school, etc., but it had no effect. Subsequent comments have indicated that we are firmly entrenched in our neighbors’ minds as The Homeschoolers.
Yesterday I was sweeping ashes off the driveway from our testing different ways to start fires, Christmas lights still blinking behind me, a week after all the other houses have taken theirs down, when one of the neighbors asked if my son wanted to come out and play. I looked at the throng of children frolicking joyfully through the streets, then motioned toward my darkened house and said, “He might want to in a while, but I think he wants to finish something on Tux Paint first.” As I was explaining that Tux Paint is a free drawing game that comes with the Linux operating system, it occurred to me that we now looked not only like shut-ins, but nerd shut-ins who aren’t even cool enough to waste the afternoon on an Xbox or a Wii. I apologize to homeschoolers everywhere for perpetuating stereotypes.
DOWNTON ABBEY IS BACK!!!!!! The first episode of Season 2 airs Sunday, January 8, and you don’t even have to have cable to watch it! I don’t know what it is with me and this show, but it captivated me the way nothing on TV ever has before. I’m normally too distracted by writing projects to make much time for television or movies; even when my husband and I do put on a movie, I often end up going through email or organizing my Evernote files while it plays. But after I watched the first episode of the first season of Downton, I was ready to give up writing, eating, sleeping, bathing, and pretty much everything else until I finished it. The day I watched the last episode, I shuffled around the house in a daze, trying to wrap my mind around the awesomeness that I had just beheld, while simultaneously trying to figure out what to do with my life now that I’d watched the entire season.
I knew that I might have a slightly unhealthy relationship to the show by my reaction to this lukewarm review of Season 2 in the Huffington Post. Normally I am all about speaking respectfully and using my real identity when I comment on other people’s blogs, but this time I found myself overwhelmed with the urge to troll the post with anonymous comments from StopHatin saying stuff like “WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!?!? SHUT UP THAT SHOW IS AWESOME WHY CAN’T YOU JUST CHILL OUT AND APPRECIATE IT?!?!?!”…even though I have not actually seen Season 2 yet. Anyway, if anyone needs me on Sunday night at 8:00, you’ll find me drooling on myself in front of my television.
You guys have the best gift suggestions. When I asked what I should get for my cousin the hiphop DJ in Brooklyn, Melanie came up with the great idea of one of these bowls made out of a vintage record:
It’s interesting how natural it has become for me to do my planning around the liturgical year. For example, when I was trying to decide on an exact deadline for the book, my first thought was that it’d be ideal to have it finished by Mardi Gras, so that I could be more relaxed during Lent. Knowing that the last couple of weeks of getting it together will be a high-stress time, I’ve been very motivated by the goal of making the most of Lent as a time to unwind and refocus. When we’ve been putting dinners and get-togethers on the calender with family and friends, it’s now second nature to think, “I’ll have to look up a good vegetarian recipe since that’s on a Friday in Lent,” or “We’ll have to do something special since that’ll be on a Sunday during the Easter season.” I love how living by the Church calendar keeps me moving in unison with the Body of Christ, and puts elements of the life of Christ at the forefront of my mind, even when I’m doing something as mundane as planning a lunch.
Book lovers, I have a little New Year’s present for you: Over at the Register, I asked 19 bloggers to give me their top book recommendation for 2012. The result was a fantastic list (and don’t miss the comments!)