Monday, October 29, 2012

writing, treating, storming-- surprise!

Yes, I did just post something a few days ago. Can you believe it?

1. writing
While getting my thoughts in order for National Novel Writing Month—and at many other times of the year, honestly—I wonder why I’m not writing more. I drift into the writing-ready zone, which means always being prepared to write down blips of lines from the radio, bolts of inspired thought from space, and questions that mostly don’t need to be answered. This zone involves unusual sleeping patterns, bursts of inspiration-driven output, and waking up suddenly to find I’ve fallen asleep on or under my laptop or notebook. While in this writing-ready zone, I derive great benefit from tasks like lawn-mowing and leaf-raking—basically anything that involves hyphenation, it seems. Dishwashing will do, in a pinch, but it’s low on the list, no matter what zone I’m in.

this place matters! write it down! take a picture!
What am I doing? Getting ready. Sharpening up. Flexing. Opening for inspiration. It’s impossible to know where ideas will come from, which of those that arrive will take hold, and which of those will grow. So, I take pictures of everything that sparks. My notebook is full of NPR, the general public, and my literarification [?!] of normal life. A few from this weekend:

- Tuesdays only? Jeez Manetti!
- Everyone who used to love me has a baby now
- The Nutmeg Trial
- I worry about my clothing/ one gettingdressed at a time
- Silver swan on an orange Suburban, corner turn to lose a wheel
- “Talk about talking about nothing,” she said, doing just that.
- They should’ve trimmed their sails and taken half a loaf// It became a lightning rod for the tea party
- “Your branzino wasn’t smiling,” she reminded him gently. She was the kind of vegetarian you would want to be friends with, although you would occasionally feel a flash of what another species of vegetarian would undoubtedly press onto you as guilt—as in the absurdity of ordering a fish to be slaughtered for your consumption, only for you to complain about the difficulties presented by its too-many bones in the dimly lit cabaret. She would never point this out to you, hence your ability to remain friends.

I like this place, this zone. I realize that I have time to wallow in it because I’m not working, and I certainly have mixed feelings about that. Still, I’m applying, and I might as well apply myself while I do.

Halloween costumes?
2. trick-or-treat
Trick-or-treaters came tonight! Although it’s not Halloween, neighborhoods across America set their official trick-or-treat night for convenience of scheduling. Tonight we had dozens of kids of all ages ringing the doorbell between 6 and 8 to claim their candy. Although some wore jackets on top, all of them had some costume—except one kid, who wore basically a hoodie and a scary look. What was he? A murderer. Luckily he was just in it for the candy. I was the official door greeter at our house, so I got to ask “And who are you tonight?” and encourage them to say “Trick or treat” if they forgot. Traditions, you know! At several points, kids responded to the question of who they were by telling me their first name. “And who are you tonight?” “I’m Logan.” “Um, are you a pirate, Logan?” “Yeah, a pirate.” “Great.” The other challenge was for those who forgot the key words of the evening.  Plenty of kids offered up “Please?”, “Thank you?”, or even “Go Steelers?” before arriving successfully at “Trick or treat!” Good times.

3. storm
As I write this, nearly everyone on the east coast of the US is bracing for Hurricane Sandy to hit and to bring wind, rain, and snow, followed by power outages, flooding, and all sorts of disruption. The rain started here tonight, halfway through trick-or-treating (luckily, we managed to give away almost all of the candy—no one needs to be stuck with extra bags of chocolate peanut butter candy!). Warnings have been sounded, schools and government offices have announced closures, public transportation in DC and NYC are shut down, and people are preparing—buying water, nonperishable food items, batteries, etc. It’s amazing to live in a place in which information is so widely available, even as weather is such a fickle force. No doubt the rain will continue, but hopefully the impact of the rest of the storm will not be as severe as many fear.

4. surprise
Something to shock and amaze: My friend Baltimore Andrew (because this is now his name on this site) works with a woman from Ukraine. I learned this last week and was surprised and excited. Very cool, etc. No, he didn’t know where she was from, but she spoke Russian, etc. There was a lot of etc., mostly on my part, perhaps, owing to his impersonation of her. It must be said that in my experience, Baltimore Andrew generally uses one voice to represent all women, no matter their age or background. To hear him impersonate Sophie, though, was truly an experience in loving stereotype, and I realized that I would need to meet her in person before I had any idea what she actually sounded like or where she was really from. So! I met her this week, and guess where she was born. No? Come on, guess! Just one guess. Okay? Yes! She was born in Lutsk—possibly when it was part of Poland!?—many years ago, and left when she was very young. More on her story when I have a chance to meet with her again, but just amazing indeed.

Stay warm and dry!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

reconnection, anticipation, and other good things

cooking vareneky for a friend's family

Over the last week or two, lucky as I am, I’ve been catching up with friends I haven’t seen for some time. These include a friend from Ukraine—through the wonder of Skype—but also real, live, in-person American friends who I’ve not met up with in three, four, or—gasp!—six years. It’s amazing to discover that these people a) still exist in such fully realized forms, b) want to see me at all, and c) are happy to chat with me and exchange extended pleasantries. As rude as that first point may seem, I think most of us, when pressed, would probably admit that there’s only some much room in our brains for so many active social guests. When we don’t see people regularly, we tend to seat them in the far-back tables of our minds, promising to return and chat soon. Is this an awkward image? Anyway, I’m glad to see these friends are doing well: coaching, parenting, writing, teaching, going to the dacha, and sharing their laughter with me. Love love love.

November is rapidly approaching, and for the sixth year in a row, this means one major thing to me: NaNoWriMo! Before focusing on that, though, here’s THIS! The first day of November has been chosen by Andrew and Logan to be the ADITLOU3—the third A Day In The Life of Ukraine cooperative writing project! If you’re in Ukraine on November 1, write about your day, and share it! You can find out all about it on the site HERE. Yes, loyal reader, you remember correctly: This is the project that I started last December, and that Andrew and I co-produced last spring. (Check the links on the right of this page for results from those ventures.) Of course, this is the first ADITLOU in which my D won't be in U, so I’ll have to make do. I’ve decided to post a parallel Day here on this site about my November 1 in the US, and if you’re interested, you can post your Day as a response here, too! I was reading a Ukrainian colleague’s comment on the ADITLOU3 Facebook event page that she was sorry she couldn’t participate because she would be in America, and it made me smile a little. With the chance to travel to America, she was disappointed to miss this writing project! Surely we can provide an opportunity. So, November 1, if you’re in Ukraine, write about your day HERE. If you’re in America or somewhere else, you’re welcome to post your day in response to my day on this page. :)

So, yes—NaNoWriMo! For those of you who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month! If you’ve been waiting for the chance to write a novel, now is the perfect time, as you’ll have an entire world full of energy and a technological and social network at your disposal to encourage your progress. Take a look at the site HERE, get inspired, and sign on up! If you can write 50,000 words in 30 days—that’s 1,667 words per day—you can win! If I can meet this challenge, it will be the sixth time I’ve won NaNoWriMo. I’m taking nothing for granted, though, and am looking forward to an energizing month full of rapidfire progress tempered with heartbreaking frustration, snapped suddenly by inspiration and soothed into meltingly rich language… In a rough draft where the movement is always forward, there’s not too much worry about perfect sense-making, so the magic generally carries through all month.

field trip to the library!
In the real world, I’m still job-searching. I’m overqualified and underqualified, in the wrong place and at the wrong time for plenty of positions. Happily, in general, I’m really at the right place and at the right time, because I’m at home with parents who support me and aren’t pushing me out the door in an uncertain direction. While I search and continue to apply, I’ve been volunteering at two local organizations. For the Adams County Literacy Council, I’ve volunteered to be an ESL tutor for a woman from Ukraine (!), but my main work is basically a kids’ club twice a week during evening adult ESL classes. The kids are a bit out of my typical age range, but we generally have a pretty good time, and it’s something useful I can do. I’ve also been helping with the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, mainly with written materials and a promotional video for an upcoming community fundraising event. So, good things!

Hope you’ve been well, and that your Halloween costume is coming together splendidly.