I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD-SLAPS, SPEED-BUMPS and LIGHT-BULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life, is the name of my memoir/essay collection with why I wrote what I wrote and what happened after. They were published once and as every writer knows, once is not enough.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

I remember me


If a picture is worth a thousand words, or ten-thousand, depending on the quote, I just threw away millions and millions of words.

In the last twelve years, (the time we have lived in this house), I have lost both my parents, my mother-in-law, a very dear friend and my brother. And five years prior I had to help my mom and dad deal with the flotsam and jetsam life remnants of my dad’s two brothers and his mom, my adored Nana. After cleaning out the houses of those who have passed on I learned...
once you die most everything you own ends up in the trash or in someone else’s yard sale.

It’s not a bad thing, that what you loved and enjoyed is considered near worthless to your children or friends. But it is kind of sad that the people you love most have to cull through your leftovers. That’s why, as we continue the sorting and packing until we move in a couple of weeks, we’re filling a dumpster with what once seemed so important to have and save. A lot of what we have accumulated, because of age, condition and gluttony, means little to us now and nothing to our kids. Pitching the old out a window into a dumpster is not only freeing but empowering.

This morning I sealed and labeled six file boxes of photos. On the way to donating dishes to Goodwill, I told my husband that saving those old pictures, (the ones worth thousands of words each), was stupid. I promised that when we got home I would unseal the boxes and shed some nameless photographic history.

I remember going through my parents’ stuff and taking home the photos they had saved from my childhood, their childhood and the few very old more formal pictures of their parents as children. But, it seemed ridiculous to save photos of people I do not know. Some boxes were of an aunt and uncle whose circle of friends was totally unknown to me and others were of people I have only known when I flipped through the boxes after someone died and the life libraries had to be moved. So in the dumpster many went as I reduced the load to two small plastic bins. One bin is half full with current pics of my daughters as kids and one is packed with my childhood and the faces of people I can actually recall.

It’s okay for my kids to pitch the old ones when I die.

If they were to glance at the grainy black and white picture of a backyard filled with people, a badminton net and tables filled with food, it will mean nothing to them.  But today the picture spoke to me, grabbed ahold of my mind and gently yanked me back over sixty years to the day the family gathered in our back yard, as storms approached. Some made it to the house before it began to thunder and pour, but many of us young ones dove under the tables for shelter. My kids will never know how we huddled under the tables while it stormed, laughing and reaching up and out and over the edge, to save the food and eat while we sat in the mud beneath the oilcloth covered tables.  That picture I saved for two reasons: it helped me remember an absolutely wonderful fun day, and as long as I know the picture is somewhere in my house, the memory is alive and so am I.

The other pictures I tossed are at rest now, their conversations and explanations silent because no one is alive to remember them. As I looked at the pictures of unfamiliar faces, the images said nothing, I let them go so my children will not have to.

But, how mindful it was for someone to click a shutter and freeze in time an essay about a moment in someone’s life even if there is no one left to read it.

Our lives are digitally cataloged to the extreme now. No bins filling a corner of an attic, no shoe boxes on a closet shelf filled with birthday snapshots. Thousands of images are perfectly saved in a cloud somewhere.

My granddaughters will most likely view their childhoods on a screen rather than a piece of paper with edges curled from age and attic heat. And I hope that when they are my age and take the time to look back, they will remember the words I speak to them through my smile on the screen while holding or playing with them. And yet I know, someday, someone will be swiping a science fiction type device, my image will appear and I will be deleted because no one is left alive who remembers me. And that’s okay because right now, I remember me, my cousins, and sitting in the mud under a picnic table while the sky roared.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Moving 2.0 - Cleaning and sorting continues.




 
Today was office day, or rather, “…I wrote this crap day?”  Actually it was, “…this is so brilliant why am I not a famous writer day?”

I just emerged from six hours of pouring over old manuscripts. Some were in such infancy I am puzzled as to why I saved them. Others are so full and robust, it’s a wonder I’m not doing this full time with a hearty bank account and my picture on the cover of WRITER’S DIGEST.

Again I discovered my mother’s book, and a journal she kept until a few weeks before she died. Skimming her entries, I sought the happy ones about my daughters and skipped the doldrum-ones about getting old and being alone.

I’m also doing something I thought I’d never do, I’m throwing books away. They are books about writing which are so archaic in their directives, no one wants them. I mean really, do I want to save a book which outlines the whole over the transom SASE thing and then tells me to call the agent if I don’t get a reply in the mail within two weeks.

It kills me to toss a book, even the paperbacks with flaky yellowed pages that smell of musty neglect because no one has opened and flipped through so they can breathe a little reader's breath. 

It will be a mighty task to move the books I am keeping and set my office up again. But, to get back to what I love most, my own crappy brilliance, is what I am really looking forward to. Who needs dishes in the cabinets and sheets on the bed? Writing is what it's all about.
 
Have you ever thrown books away? And if you did, how did it make you feel?