The first entry in my writer’s notebook is dated May 28, 2013. Less than a year old, my notebook is basically a rather messy toddler with arrows running here and there…words, lines, and full paragraphs crossed out…new words, lines, and paragraphs added…asterisks that move my eyes around the page…stuffed with odd little pieces of paper. My handwriting is not the best on a good day, so one can only imagine what it looks like in my notebook, legible only to me.
I had never kept a notebook before that and never imagined how useful it would become to me. That is until I joined this writing challenge. Now it’s the place where I store ideas for another day. It’s the place I’ve learned to turn when I think I can’t write another piece. It’s the place where I hold lines that inspire me. Until I decided to write daily, I did not realize the full value of my writer’s notebook.
Looking back on this month and thinking about this being the final day, I would like to send a little note to my writer’s notebook. To borrow a line from a piece I posted a few weeks ago…
I am a better writer, if I am, because of you. Thanks.
The hug. That tight little squeeze that says “I love you” without any words. The best 4 – 5 seconds a grandma can get from her two favorite guys.
Thank you, Reece! for your strong, five-year-old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hug that you spontaneously add to every hello and goodbye kiss.
Thank you, Morgan! At 18 months old, you wrap your arms around my neck with a slightly more gentle hug when I pick you up, adding a quiet giggle when I return the favor.
Thank you! to my son and daughter-in-law for giving me these small grandma moments on a beautiful sunny day.
I bought a bouquet of your favorite flowers today for my table.
Bright yellow cups sitting atop long green stems.
They always remind me of you.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
The smell of an old leather chair in front of the window
Looking out to the art garden and waterfall
The sound of a few whispered voices
Even more hushed by the stacks of books
No phones or music overheard
Only peace and quiet
I am content
Reading my book at the library…
…While the cleaning ladies are at my house
It’s appropriately gloomy on this 27th day of March. I have an appointment this afternoon to have our taxes done. This is not procrastination. This is a clear choice on my part to hold off as long as I can every year. You see…we have no deductions to claim other than the usual items associated with owning a home.
It wasn’t always this way. I used to have dependents and all of the deductions that came with them. And then they started walking out the door.
1997: “Dear Mom & Dad, Now that I’m a college graduate, I’m going to rent a high-priced studio apartment on the north side.”
Deduction #1 walks out the door.
1999: “Dear Mom & Dad, My best friend and I are going to rent one of those typical apartments in one of those typical 6-unit buildings in the next suburb and turn it into one of those typical bachelor pads.”
Deduction #2 walks out the door.
2003: “Dear Mom & Dad, I’m moving in with….” (This one was right after we moved into our new townhouse, and I let her pick out that hideous carpet for her room.)
Deduction #3 walks out the door.
Later on, I’ll politely listen to the usual advice about how to reduce our taxes. One option is to purchase a vacation home. Going deeper into debt to pay less taxes seems a bit of an oxymoron to me, so I’ve come up with a different plan. I’m taking out an ad in the newspaper.
One tax deduction
Nice bedroom w/beautiful carpet
Queen size sofa bed
Will remove treadmill
Full cable package
Yesterday’s post took me back to my experience as a dancing box of cigarettes. A different time…
In high school, I used my amateur dancing skills once again to be become a member of the Pom Pon Squad. We were a small parochial school without a big talent pool. If you could keep a beat, which I could, you were a keeper! Our strength was our school spirit. Our weakness was our lack of ability to create good dance routines.
The summer after my sophomore year, the squad had the opportunity to attend a week long summer camp down in Champaign at U of I. We were with groups of girls from all around the state, learning how to combine precision skills with dance moves and to pick music that would engage the crowd. We had 4 days to perfect the one routine that all squads would perform at the final assembly. Each group received a critique and rating from the instructor/judges. We didn’t exactly receive glowing reviews, but we did have fun and returned to school in the fall with a renewed energy.
We couldn’t wait to perform our newly learned routine, which we did for the first time at the annual Homecoming pep rally. With pom pons poised, we were ready as the music came over the sound system, loud and clear. And we began to dance to… Smackwater Jack by Carole King.
If you’re not familiar with the song, it tells the story of the town “outlaw” who gets angry and goes on a shooting spree through town until he’s stopped by the townspeople and hanged. The lyrics include lines like “…he brought a shotgun,” “…so he shot down the congregation,” and “… with a shotgun in his hand.” There we were, dancing our hearts out to the delight of the crowd and the approval of our teachers, to a song about guns. I’m sure the same scene was playing out in many other gyms across the state.
That would not happen today, no matter how good the music might be. To quote an old American Bandstand phrase… “It has a good beat. I can dance to it.” There is more to music than the beat. I listen to and enjoy a variety of different musical genres, many of which would not be appropriate for a children’s dance recital or a school pep rally.
It is a different time.
I hadn’t decided on a topic choice for my slice today until I read “So good it’s got to be kool” from a fellow slicer.
We filled our time after school participating in the many activities The Park had to offer. We couldn’t wait for the new brochure to come out each fall so we could pick our classes for the year. My parents supported our choices with one rule….we had to see it through the entire session even if we didn’t like it.
There weren’t many that I didn’t like. I learned to sew beginning in third grade. I took that class all the way through eighth grade and had many a spiffy outfit to show off in the annual fashion shows. I learned to twirl a pretty mean baton (which I still have, BTW) in fifth grade. As a third and fourth grader, I remember the sound of my black patent leather tap shoes on the wooden floors of the gym. I can still remember how to do a shuffle ball change. My first beginning ballet class with those simple black ballet shoes in first grade led all the way to the advanced classes in seventh and eighth grades. I couldn’t wait for that because we got to wear pink toe shoes with satin ribbons.
I was reminded of those shoes as I read this morning. Every spring we had an annual dance recital to show off what we had learned. The year I was in the advanced class, we performed a ballet, pink toe shoes and all, to a rather unusual theme song…the song from the commercial for Marlboro cigarettes. And we did the dance dressed like big packages of Marlboros! I kid you not. Someone had taken big boxes and painted them to look exactly like the box of cigarettes. There we were, heads sticking out the top, arms out to the sides, skinny legs wearing pink toe shoes coming out from the bottom, dancing around as over-sized boxes of Marlboro cigarettes.
Times have certainly changed for the better. To quote Dar this morning…”Smoking “was” the epitome of cool!”…past tense. For young ballerinas everywhere, thank goodness it isn’t anymore.