Saturday, July 30, 2011

Write, Eat, Post, Bathe writing group Prompt: Things That Delight Me

When my daughter Ariane was small, she studied gymnastics.  One of the positions she learned on the balance beam was the scale--on one foot, the other leg back out behind, arms like wings of an airplane.  She had such balance. 

Ariane is 26.  She can still do a very nice scale, and she can stand in the statue of liberty pose like she used to do at the top of the pyramid as a cheerleader.  I wouldn't like to see her up there now, mind you.  She takes her chances these days on children with tough home situations and at love.  It all balances out.

Ariane delights me.  Sassy, bold, generous, messy, many wonderful things, that Ari.

Today, after a barbecued chicken lunch with Ariane, Adam and Adrian, we discussed siblings and childhood shenanigans.  We all had the latter; Ariane was the only one without the former.  We also watched as she demonstrated her ability to still perform a perfect scale and a liberty with her feet on the ground.  I love to see that and remember her fearlessness up in the air.  

This was supposed to be about how I can balance on one foot in physical therapy, about how I can do all the exercises, seeking to exceed expectations.  This essay was to be about how I went from being unable to walk last spring to being able to run a bit this summer.  But I got lost watching as Ariane demonstrated her scale, duplicating with precision my clumsy one, making it impossible not to write about the most delightful part of my life.  Walking is nice, but momming is better.  On balance, Ari wins. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stepping on Graves

I painted my toenails acid green for summer.

After slogging through the the 19th Century American Literature in June, I couldn't wait for a little rest, a little fun.  And what could be more fun than acid green toenails?

And they did cheer me up.  Every time I looked at them, I giggled a bit.  My neurologist joked that I must be doing better if I could reach my toes to paint them green.  He said he knew I had painted them because no one else would have done it to me.  I don't know.  They looked kind of spiffy.  I was intending to take a picture to show you and write about that. 

I didn't get the picture taken and now they are really needing to be redone. 

See, I went home to Tennessee for a few days to see the old home place that got out of my family for a few years, something like 30 years, really.  My sister bought it last month, and we were all tickled to see the place back in the family.  So I went home to inspect it and to bring my mom back here in San Antonio for a visit.  She's here now.  It wasn't her home place but the other side of the family--my paternal grandmother's home.  Lots of history there in that old ramshackle house by the pond.  I lived many years across the road from the farmland part of that piece of land.  Not such good memories for me there.  I have exercised demons from some other family land on previous trips home and by signing some of it over to a church for land for the kids to play.  I hoped for a positive experience last week.

Sherry couldn't wait to show me the place, so we went there on the way back from the airport.  I was wearing my brown flip flops and sporting my green toenails.  Not exactly good farm shoes.  A good neighbor farmer had cleared us a place to drive right up to the pond.  Getting out, we took some pictures and walked the place.  The old home where my grandmother was born had been moved by a previous owner to the back of the property for use as a shed for hay and feed for cows.  It was surrounded by a little woods that was thick with poison ivy.  Sherry is allergic; I'm not.  I blazed the trail, so I spent a lot of time looking at the ground and at my feet picking their way through to find a safe path for her.  Payback for many times when my big sister did the same for me with people much more nefarious (although just as toxic) as poison ivy.  I learned early to watch my step.  Snakes, rotten boards, sharp sapling stumps, bad relatives--pretty much the same.  Our Uncle Tuck killled himself in the room that had been turned into a shed for the cows to escape a storm.  No floor, three walls down, just a shed.  The 80-some-year-old man who bought the farm once fell through the roof putting up tin and was laid out with broken bones for hours until he finally crawled to the road for help.  Sometimes, it can be a long road.

My mom did come home with me for a visit to San Antonio.  She is 82 and has whipped lymphoma but has weakened considerably.  She has a bad back with more metal than bone holding it all together.  All this meant she needed a wheelchair assist through the airport.  You'd think with all the security complications that a wheelchair would add to the headaches of air travel.  Surprisingly, the skycaps, the fast lane for wheelchairs, and the early boarding made it easier to travel with a wheelchair-bound mommy than without one.  Sometimes, it all evens out. 

So here we are in San Antonio.  I am a little later than I had hoped writing from my "Write, Eat, Post, Bathe" group's prompt about feet. 

I thought about feet all week--in the airport, with green toenails, dusty with ancestor dirt, up on the footrests of a wheelchair in the Memphis airport.  I also thought about some other feet.  One other day when we were in Tennessee, I did some research for a book of short stories I am writing and for some genealogy I am doing.  My flip-flop-shod feet walked over the bones of the Thompson family members who came in a group from Alamance County, North Carolina to Dancyville, Tennessee around 1850.  They spread out and married and had children.  One of the grandchildren of that bunch, James Rawlin Thompson, married the woman who was born in that house up by a pond, Emma Sue Bourne.  They had my daddy, who, with a little help from Mom, had me.  He held on to me in more ways than one for many years after I had crossed an ocean to make a new life for myself.  My feet have carried me all the way and walked the floor with a daughter of my own.  It's almost too much to take in for a little posting on a blog.

Now, I am listening to my husband and my mother talk about the TV program they are watching on the Hallmark Channel about pioneers.  I just want to hit the "publish post" button and go change my toenail color to shocking blue.  I am having fun this summer.  And I am getting somewhere.

I hope your feet take you to interesting places as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Write, Eat, Post, Bathe: Cyn's Words

Over the last year, with all the diagnoses and not being able to walk and all, I have let myself go.

Yes, I gained weight, but that was mostly the "not being able to walk" and the prednisone. Physical therapy will take care of that. I am not worried about my physical presence. I will push through all that like I pressed through the pain.

I have let myself go in a different way. Maybe more than one.

I have let myself go when I write for school and put extraordinary effort and attention into it. I am bold enough to say that I write very well for school. I could show you some papers that would make you weep with joy, if reading about Faulkner, Beowulf, or Fleckenstein is your thing. I have made it my thing. I write and research and read.

There, now. That's another thing. I read you and don't write me. I wrote a poem about that once. Now, I just read other people's poems and write lovely papers about them. And it makes me sad sometimes. I love school, and as I always say, I am there on purpose. But I miss writing for me.

So, I am letting myself go in a different way. I am writing for me, too. I am giving just as much weight to the things that come only from the prompting inside my head as I give to school assignments.

And if that means that I need someone to be waiting for the work to help me along, then I have that as well. I am making myself accountable to my writing group. We are a group of friends who have been together online for so many years I can't quite remember. Some of these women I know so intimately that I can't imagine we haven't ever met in person. Some, I know only tangentially, a kind of over-the-shoulder relationship with the friendship they have with each other.

We are called Write, Eat, Post, Bathe. That's all I am going to have time for when school starts back, and I am writing that book of short stories, and I am still going to physical therapy.

So, I am keeping up with this blog for personal stuff like this post. And I still have Dead Daddy for the recovery poetry. But now, I am getting together another one. (Can you stand it?) And you shall have writing, my friends, from inside my own head.

Let's go.