Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On writing ordinary

Back when I was a post-collegiate bohemian youth, I bopped around Boston, notebook in hand or messenger bag, writing down snippets of conversations from the street, cafe or T, sights, smells, incidents and other observations, quotes from favorite artists, poets, authors, musicians, you name it. If the light bulb dinged over my head, pen was in hand, scribbling away.

If I tried to do that now, everything I’d jot would be so ordinary, so mundane, so housefrau. I guess in a way, that is what I do with this blog. I try to find the amazing in the small facets in my life as a mother, a writer barely hanging on, while raising teen angst, asperger preteen and toddler girl, gardening, and trying to keep a lively conversation going while I am alone in my thoughts.

Yesterday, I found the last vestiges of my gladioli lying on the ground. Imagine if your very existence really weighed you down like the gladiolus? Sometimes, I feel like I’m stuck home without a purpose or a friend, staring at the same old same old, day in and day out. So I clipped the blooms of the gladioli, and stuck them in a vase while I thought how surprising that the stamens are lavender in each variety. Lavender, not orange or yellow like you find and expect in most other flowers, but something totally surprising when I got up close and really observed them. The white variety has a slight blush in the flute of the bloom, the frilled pink, a ray of yellow, the peach blossom, deep burnt orange heart, yellow ray that deepens to the peach of the petals. And they all have those lavender stamens.

I realized as I was picking them that if I’d dig in a little deeper to replant the bulbs, maybe they won’t fall over next year. When I dig in deeper in my own life, I feel more stable and connected, too.

I thought about how if I really took a moment to observe, I would find the beauty and the depth in the ordinary. The variety in the simple, and how much I was missing, by closing my eyes, my mind, my heart to what is right in front of me.

So here’s a little of my extraordinary ordinary:

Lucy has just caught a scent and is contemplating whether she should go dig up that mole or will she get in trouble because I'm sitting right there. Trust me, she is trying very hard to not acknowledge that I'm watching.

Baby C is running at me, about to fall over, carrying the world in her hands. I don't think I've ever viewed Antartica from quite this close projectile perspective. A moment later, that ball saved C from smashing her face into the arm of the beach chair where I sat. Another eye or tooth saved from permanent damage due to the whims of a toddler. I now know what that prehistoric meteor must have seen as it hurdled through space to obliterate the dinosaurs. Minus the backyard and toddler.

Update: a handful of hours after setting up this post, C did receive a black eye - the first shiner of her little life. She's okay, a tough girl. After all, she does have two very big brothers.


  1. I envy you for being able to write like this. I've never been good at keeping a journal, and given the lack of activity on my own blog, even worse at that.

    But I am diligently working on my novel, which counts, right?

  2. thanks, kristine! just trying to be present in my life and writing the random thoughts down.

    and yes, working on your novel counts for everything!


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