29 January 2010

An era is over

I'm staying at my grandparents house for the first time since my grandmother died last August. All my life I've stayed at my grandparents and awoke to sounds of plunking around in the kitchen and probably the smell of coffee. My grandparents have always been early risers and the older they've gotten been tinkers in the kitchen. Often we would chuckle as they both chatted in their respective corners of the kitchen and neither seemed to hear the other.

My grandmother died very suddenly from heart failure last year and none of us was expecting or prepared for anything of that nature. Other than a little high cholesterol we had no idea. As we always say, you can never be prepared.

Each time I've left their home for the past 10 years or so, I've wondered if it was the last time I'd see one of them. Someone else in the family has regretted their decision to live in a city away from everyone else, but I've tried to look at it as how fortunate they were to get to follow their hearts.

I don't necessarily regret the time we didn't spend together, but the loss of opportunity to make more memories. I struggle with the guilt of not being "there" wherever that might be since I am living mostly overseas for our work. But more than all of that, I just struggle with the bitter absence of breakfast sounds knowing that it will never be the same and yet rejoicing that I am so fortunate to have had my grandmother until I was 41 years old. I am learning to savor what I do have and have had, even while I swallow my tears.

26 January 2010

All in One Day

I don't write poetry, so excuse this. Random things that are striking me after a four year absence from the USA, as we begin to travel and share our mission again.

Rise before dawn
dress in high heels.
Glide through the night
light creeps into the sky.
Frozen creeks
carpets of green sprouts
gold-red prairie grasses
spread in tweed browns.
black turned earth
muddy black cows
chopped yellow stalks
ice jams on rivers

i-70, KS 36, 99, 9, 15
200 miles tick past
Honk Kong Buffet
Dairy Queen and Truck stops

excited to share
leather cowl 3rd Row
old man w/ fuzzy neck
who lived in Berlin in the war
grateful to receive MY emails?!

white flakes on the wind
unseen owls whoo-whoo
birds of prey swoop the road
gulleys of unmelted snow
farmer on a phone in a tractor
grand spreads
brokedown barns
abandoned homes
stoic stone courthouses
stone arch bridge in a random field

20 January 2010

Instant gratification

Am I blogging only for the sense of gratification I get from a few comments? I've wanted to tell stories and write since I was in grade school...around the time I quit growing (taller) now that I come to think of it. Anyway, I like the sense of getting something out immediately, but I've been in the industry long enough to know that there is a certain lack of authentication without an editor involved.

I've read the articles debating self publishing and the need for a neutral party to read (edit) your writing. Better yet I've read some of those books by people who decided to just go for it and print after frustrating bouts with the publishing industry. I seem to have stalled out in that painful area and I can totally appreciate giving up and paying to put it in print. Don't get me wrong occasionally these books turn out okay, but more often than not they are noticeably behind their formally published counterparts in quality.

So after a sheaf of rejections in my own drawer, I do enjoy the instantness of a blog. But now I'm beginning to experience instant rejectification. Last week I submitted a short story to an anthology at about 11pm the day before the deadline. It was a story of around 4,000 words. I had the rejection by 3pm the next day. Hope doesn't even have much time to hatch in this environment. I suppose the bright spot is there was no exchange of postage and self addressed stamped envelopes.

So thank you for the moments of instant gratification in blog land and a thumb of my nose to the instant rejectification. If I give up trying, I'll never know if my writing can get authenticated and published some day.

15 January 2010

I feel ignorant

I had a moment this week that I used the word ignorant in the literal sense of the word. I was on a tech support call if that helps any. I couldn't get the new website to load and I knew that I was simply ignorant of some step in the process. (I must be missing a similar step for the printer, but I digress).

We are about to start doing public speaking each week about our lives in Spain making videos. I realized after living in Madrid the last four years people expect me to be an authority on Spanish culture, but I feel ignorant. In four years, it seems I've barely scratched the surface and now I must speak for an entire country.

It's not that I didn't gain a lot of knowledge in Spain, I did. It's just that I really only know about my own experiences. I had one culture class from a real Spaniard but that was 3 days about five years ago. I knew and interacted with a few Spaniards but my daily life was with missionaries and other immigrants.

My only real Spanish friends were from church and there again most of the people sustaining the churches we attended were not from Spain. Romanians and South Americans seem to keep the church alive. I know compared to the random person on the street I do know a lot about Spain, but I don't feel an authority on a country so diverse. Each region has its quirks and laws and in some cases language.

Now don't get me wrong, it's a blast to get to talk about it, but I feel sheepish speaking for an entire people group with my limited experiences. Most people are only interested in about 15 minutes worth of conversation about my life in Spain, sometimes only five minutes. So traveling around and visiting to do our fund raising is a fun opportunity to blabber on and on about what I do THINK about Spain or tell my personal experiences. Hopefully a year from now I haven't left a lot of people thinking the wrong things about my other home.

Ready or not here I come.

07 January 2010

As good as it gets

I had a conversation once with a friend from high school about how we thought we were fat in our 20s and now, uh, well, several years, okay decades later, we think how good we looked when we first got out of high school. (Please note: I'm not talking about fashion, just looks.)

Often in the mornings going through my morning ablutions and I'm feeling fussy or I'm complaining, I try to remember today is the youngest day of the rest of my life. Today is the least wrinkles, barring surgery, that I will have for the rest of my days here. So I need to appreciate what I've got today, rather than look back in 20 more years and think how good I had it and didn't know it.

I suppose it could be the skinniest day of the rest of my life but I don't know, people do take up fitness at various ages, so it's possible to have a thinner phase of life. So far my track record has been a slow escalation which all things continuing to be what they are means today is probably the skinniest day of my life as well.

I wish I could say I appreciate this fact and live in it's fullness each day. I don't. But I am learning to remind myself that today may be as good as it gets, so don't disavow that person in the mirror today. This may indeed be as good as it gets. But a little more make up might not hurt.

01 January 2010

Hold onto your hat

I'm reinventing my blog with the idea of posting once a week for a year. A friend of mine did a piece of art a week last year and made it to the end of the year. So I was toying with the idea of posting some writing weekly. The thing is that I can't find a theme. It seems a little reckless and unrealistic to write a short story every week, well, not and expect it to be good.

I also saw the movie Julie and Julia where she blogs about going through a cookbook of recipes in a year. I was inspired again but still came up theme-less. I can't say I've resolved to do this for 2010 because at midnight last night I was still un-decided because of my lack of theme.

Perhaps I will randomly post myself into a theme. It's possible. Perhaps it will be a private journal that people will not read much.

I have had the conviction for the past few months knowing I was leaving my office schedule routine in Madrid for the more random public speaking, fund raising schedule in the United States that I wanted to write more in 2010. A lot of writers, and want-to-be writers say they want to write more "this year." I used to say more words on paper. I guess now it's just more words. I still wouldn't call it a resolution. An aspiration maybe.

Will I be among the many who disappoint themselves this year? Or will I stumble into something good? Maybe the simple act of doing will be discipline and reward enough. We shall see.

Upcoming ideas: crappy crafts, writing anst, story ideas.