Monthly Archives: December 2010

troubadour’s song

Walking my not-yet-walking-year-old grandson (you know….you hold his hands and he staggers in front of you) in falling dusk as neighbors’ Christmas lights gleam and he gurgles and talks sing-song in genuine pleasure….so pleased with himself and the world….

Watching paperwhites stalks lurch up greenly….so greenly….(a little gin to the water helps)….seeing the fat bulge of the blossom hidden as yet by the green….knowing the white unfurling to come….

Talking with my nephew (his mother, my sister, dead 10 years)….he says, I love you, Aunt Karleen….and as I say I love you back, such a catch in my throat….it’s as if my sister’s spirit sits on my shoulder and in my heart…she’s with me for a moment, again….it happens too rarely, now…

Reading a hilarious note to Santa from my granddaughter….a note which asks him to sign where she has drawn a line to prove (prove being spelled proove) he’s real…..

Finding Christmas cards I like….lots of red in the illustration this year….loving the red, the art of the artist who drew the illustration….loving that this year there is time to do this ritual….wondering if in 10 years there will even be paper cards to buy….thinking it all moves on and on…..

Stepping back as my daughter and daughter-in-law begin to take Christmas into their own hands….where I am the guest to their doings….feeling odd and old but liking their fledgling maneuvers…. thinking, it all moves on and on and on….

What was your song this season?


senseless beauty

A friend sent a flash mob video of a group singing in a mall. Flash mob stuff usually makes me cry. It’s because of the expressions on the faces of the watchers: surprised and perplexed to begin and then a growing joyfulness as the performance continues and the watchers realize it is a performance. There is something about seeing performance live–music, singing, dancing, acting–that can’t be felt across TV or internet. It’s a special kind of energy, an immediate giving from the performers of their talents and an amazed receiving from the watchers. It reminds me of that saying that was all the rage a few years ago: practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty. That’s what flash mob performance is to me: senseless beauty. In this busy, often manic world of ours where connections are done remotely, the immediacy of a flash mob performance is reflected on the watchers’ faces. Their faces reflect joy.

So, something for 2011: a revival of the practice of random acts of kindness and senseless beauty. And if you get a chance, join a flash mob! Why not?

The video my friend sent is in the hot words in this blog, as are some other flash mob performances. Joy to the world, all the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me.

page proofs

I just sent off page proofs to New York. This means that not another word of the book I’ve finished will be changed. I did something I didn’t expect. I took what I thought was some worldly wisdom out of the book, deleted it. When I wrote the worldly, warning words, I was adamant about keeping them in. I don’t like sticky sweet romances. I feel like they’re a lie. But in rereading the story again, I decided that I wasn’t being fair to the character, who couldn’t know what he would do in the years ahead, and that I was killing hope, that we begin everything with hope. Time or circumstances may change that, but hope is one of the most beautiful things in our lives. We’ve never dare to anything without it. So I dropped lines that were foreboding, showing what the future would hold. I decided they reflected my own cynicism. I don’t want to be a cynic. I want to keep  aspects of a child, but not deny the wisdom of my years.

What are you looking for when you read? An escape? Realism? Adventure? Why do we read fiction?

they light up my life

Tis the season. All around the neighborhood lights are going up for the holidays. I’m already tired of Christmas carols, and I don’t like that Christmas marketing starts now after Halloween. But I do like the lights. The neighbor across the street has gone strong on green. Next door is more austere white. But, once more, down the street, folks have done their usual light mayhem, which makes me so happy. Here’s my blog about them from another year……

Well, the neighbors have done it again, put up Christmas lights with complete abandon, mayhem, and disorder. It’s wonderful. Lights lurch above the sidewalk to encircle the trees. Tree trunks are wrapped haphazardly, great gaps of space between the light strings. Old fashioned tinsel garland sweeps across the front porch, thrown in the mix probably because it was there, and the lighting committee isn’t one to waste a thing. Lighted-wire animals are crammed in the small front yard. There’s a big peace on earth sign lit by a single hard spot. Overhead and around the house and on the fence and through the trees, lights blink, spit, twinkle. Some have tiny bulbs, some have large, some go on and off, some stay solid. No rhyme or reason as to how they’re joined. Nothing matches. Nothing ends well. In fact, it looks like when they run out of light, they just flat quit. It’s a blinding, dazzling, incoherent mishmash of color and holiday spirt. I love it. Every other house is yuppified, prissy, timid. If a tree trunk is wrapped, it’s wrapped so tight that even an anal retentive can’t complain. But not the neighbors’. Every year they decorate with growing panache and anarchy. It’s garish, happy, and completely in the spirit of Christmas, reflecting both uncomplication and rash purity. It makes our redeveloped, more and more upscale neighborhood hark back to old times, when everything didn’t have to look like Martha Stewart designed it. (We used to have a house in which the owner had built a replica of a plane crashing into the roof. Those were the days.) No sir. No matching for these neighbors. No plan. Just a spectacle of color and gallant, brash, in-your-face-hurray-it’s-Christmas spirit-and-I’m-tired-let’s-just-put-the-lights-here. Merry Christmas, ya’ll.

That being said, Merry Christmas, dear ones. Do what you can to make the season bright….And if the season carries sadness, do what you can to heal. I’d like to know about how you make Christmas special…..tell me…….