Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Easter!

Mom's version of rebirth and renewal ~

Teenage version ~
Holidays always seem to sneak up on me.  I think it's my resistance to the stores' insistence on mingling bunnies and marshmallow peeps alongside the Valentines cards. My brain screams, That's not real! Not yet!

It's kind of how I trick myself by setting the kitchen clock ahead ten minutes so I'm not late in the morning, then I pour another cup of coffee thinking I have way more time than I do.

Easter is late this year, and that's my favorite way to celebrate it. When it comes in the dull middle of March, it seems so...well, like it's in the dull middle of something.

Right now, here, the buds are coming out on the trees and we're leaving the heat off during the day. I've even got the kids outside helping to clean up the yard and doing the garden thing.
We're clearly not a yard-obsessed family (seeing as we found a rubber tire in the brush-clogged part of our yard we just started cleaning out), but there is something about working together to clear out brush and branches that makes you think about concepts like renewal. I've always thought we should make resolutions at Easter instead of New Year's when there is still so much chocolate left over.

So, in keeping with the spirit of rebirth, my Easter resolution is to streamline my life. In May, I am going to be working only three days a week so I can write more. It's official. I realized that as much as I like teaching, I like writing more. And the half day I have to write is constantly being consumed with orthodontia appointments or laundry or visits to the vet. I keep writing in small slivers and when that happens, not a whole lot gets completed.

I can't wait.

And I can't be the only one who thinks this way. Have you made any spring resolutions?

Friday, April 8, 2011


  I remember studying that picture in my elementary school library instead of watching the film on the Dewey Decimal system. I also remember feeling sort of scared by  it, but only in the way you can be scared in an elementary school library which is not too terribly scared.

I think it was the mysticism of the painting that alarmed me. On the whole, there is not too much mysticism in American schools, even though I was taught by returning Vietnam vets and hippies (the real kind who had lived, or at least had visited, Haight Ashbury and met Jerry Garcia, or at least had attended one of his concerts)

It was an interesting time to be a child because none of our once-upon-a-time hippie teachers agreed with anything the Vietnam vets thought and vice versa. And we could tell who they were because the VietNam vets all dressed like hippies and the previous hippies wore conservative clothing to indicate they had now changed and decided to devote their lives to working with children. Both groups told us a pretty sanitized version of what they had learned by their experiences.

We loved when they talked about their former lives.We used to steer them toward the topic and ask them questions.

It wasn't that we understood most of what they said; what we did understand was that it was really, really easy to get these young, devoted, highly sincere teachers to move and stay off the topic of say, the Dewey Decimal system. Or the exports of Guatemala. I became especially interested in learning about Vietnamese village life at the onset of math sessions.

But this is a post about time, not about Anne Spollen's politically divided elementary school experience. The above ramble actually sort of underscores what I haven't said yet...

Time is actually a concept that I grapple with every day. I don't think I am one of those people who is "good" with time in the sense that I am efficient. I do put on the wash and start dinner and help with homework all at the same time. I'll even return phone calls then and go through the bills. And I do it all really quickly, really efficiently.

 Then I take the dog out and spent twenty minutes wondering if I should put a few trellises of roses over the spot where the neighbor's hideous plastic and vinyl fence meets my property line. Or forsythia? Wait, I can't stand forsythia; they look like skeletons most of the year.

Could I put a fence up over that fence? Does that require a survey? How about vines? Yeah, vines.Only they would go everywhere. Or have thorns. On the ground that the kids and the dog would get tangled up in. So yeah, roses. Wait, I love wisteria. Is that a good name for a character? Wisteria Howard. Maybe. But how many rose bushes or wisteria vines? And so on....

I feel like I can focus in bouts, but most of the time my brain is, well, more like a tumble of vines than say a straight growing tree organized into brances. I don't know if that's good or bad for writing or how writers' brains work in general. Writers all seem so different to me.

I've tried this before, but I am going to try and create a specific period of time to write and only write. Since I have times when I work, when I sleep, when I spend time with the kids, I need to build in some part of each day to write. I think it would help focus.

How do you structure your day? Do you have  a specific time of day to write? Is it built in? Is it flexible?