Haven’t blogged in a while.
Honestly not entirely sure what to write about now. But I thought I should check in for a few reasons.
NaNoWriMo – a bust this year. I did worse than last year, which is horribly disappointing. I have some ideas as to why: lack of discipline, an overabundance of depression (how ’bout that election, Fred?) and a bit of seasonal (but not seasonal affective disorder) depression. All are legitimate reasons for my failure, both at 50,000 words and my sub-goal of beating last year’s total (I wanted to manage at least 30,000 words). The very bitchy part of myself says I should have been able to push past those things. And maybe if it had been 2 of 3, I could have. But 3 of 3 was too much this year, and I’m trying to give myself a pass. I did succeed in updating my Scrivener app so I can write on my iPad which is easier to carry than the laptop, and even DID write out and about at least 3 separate times. I just need to make an effort to improve. So, I will.
Not listed in the argh above is the stress of planning a home purchase and move. We haven’t packed as much as I’d like, and it’s throwing off holidays and other things. It probably even contributed to NaNo#Fail. But it’s coming along and hopefully, things will be finalized next month and we’ll be in our first house. It’s the first one I’ve owned, and my hubby is treating it as the first one he has owned – even though technically it’s not – because it’s been so long since the last purchase, and it’s so different, being a stick frame built as opposed to a manufactured placed on a foundation.
Various awesome things have happened this year. Various ugh things have happened this year. Mostly, I’ve wanted to vent about the ugh things, but I don’t feel 100% safe doing that in this space, and haven’t. I’m not entirely sure how I want to deal with that, but I’ve found a tiny steam valve and am starting to use it a bit more. I think it’s safe, so we’ll see how that goes. It’s a short form location though, and sometimes, I want long form. So it could very well change in the future.
Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday. And the anniversary of his death. He’s been gone 12 years, as of roughly 8am (slightly earlier, if I recall correctly) tomorrow morning, and there are days when I miss him dreadfully. On Christmas night, it will be the anniversary of mom’s death. She’ll have been gone 6 years. I’ve missed her worse this year than in a very long time. Most of that is the election. Some of that is the house. Some of it is a couple of movies I really think she’d have enjoyed so much. Sometimes, I blog specifically about those days. But this year, work is… work. And I don’t think I’ll have that luxury, so I’m just going to leave this hear and remember them as best I can in the moment.
I wish the merriest of Christmases, and the happiest of holidays to all of you. Whether you’re a dear friend who happens to stumble on this space and we speak daily, or you’re a stranger who just sees it in passing, know that there is a person in the world who does, honestly, hope that everyone is able to enjoy a moment of pure joy this season. We all deserve it, no matter what anyone anywhere says or does.
I picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition) recently, and finally got around to reading it Tuesday night. According to Amazon it’s 320 pages, and I sort of remember that, but some of that is table of contents and biographies and cast and such.
Because, when it comes down to it, it’s a script you know.
Scripts read somewhat differently than novels, although not a lot. To be honest with you, once I’m a handful of pages into either my mind’s eye takes over and it all sort of flows with words and voices and images of the setting and they feel about the same, except scripts go a teeny bit faster. I read quickly anyway, but normally 320 pages would probably have taken me closer to 5 or 6 hours, and it did not take me nearly that long.
I enjoyed it. I had seen some things on the internet (spoilers) about specific people missing from the book and how that was important/horrible/weird, but in one case specifically they aren’t “missing” they’re just … off-stage. And the characters on-stage react to their existence very much as if they’re part of the world, and in fact, important there. In a play, this is considered normal and is a useful device. In a book, it’s somehow less common (although honestly still happens, but I think people don’t think about it with characters who once had speaking parts and somehow don’t now in this book).
I got to thinking about it though, and I think I’ve been reading scripts since I was either 5 or 6 years old. That I can remember, at least. Mom and Dad had the collected works of Shakespeare in the house, of course, but Daddy had shelves of scripts. I still own some, in fact. I was in an original children’s play as a very small child. And in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as an older child. And Murder in the Cathedral as a teenager. Not to mention plays for school, like Lilies in the Field and others I can’t currently recall. I didn’t particularly like being up on stage, in front of people, but I liked playing a part. And I really loved helping with set creation and lighting and talking about costuming choices and blocking; so I enjoyed reading scene direction.
All of that meant that I have very clear ideas and opinions about what the characters in The Cursed Child look like. And how some of the story line would force some interesting costume changes. (I’m particularly fond of Hermione and Ron in one bit, I’d love to see that live and interpreted on stage!) I have a feeling for where they’d be on stage, and where they were in the universe of Harry Potter. It felt as fleshed out, in many ways, as the books. Perhaps this worked because I’m already familiar with the universe? I think it must be that, to a large degree.
It does make me miss Mom and Dad more, though. I can’t recall if Daddy liked the Harry Potter universe or not. He didn’t read long form for fun all that often, although it did sometimes happen. But he watched a pretty wide variety of television and movies and they would have been within the realm of things he’d be interested in. Mom I know loved the books and movies well enough that she had a favorite line.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
She’d hand written it, copying out of the book, and kept it on her desk from having fallen in love with it until she died. And I think she’d have been very interested in this installment. Plus, I could have talked to them about the mechanics of reading the different formats and how that feels in your own head, which would have been really good. Most of the time, when I miss my parents, it has less to do with wanting them to fix a thing, or know about an event, and more to do with wanting to talk with them about small daily things and things that made me think of them, and of course, to get hugs and just see them with my eyes again.
I think Rowling understands those feelings so much. And in the end, she explores it quite well in this book. I’ve already lent my copy out to a co-worker, who expressed an interest after she discovered I’d read it the night before. I really hope she enjoys it.
Sometimes, like most people who lost their parents too young, I wish they were still around.
For me, it’s usually when a niece or my nephew does something awesome. Or just plain exists. My youngest niece occasionally takes my breath away in pictures my sister takes, where a gesture or a knowing side-eye smirk at the camera or just a sweet smile reminds me so much of my mother. The fact that both of the girls are all about the glitter and pink would amuse the heck out of mom, as well. None of us were particularly girly as kids. I guess it skips a generation. Sometimes my nephew does sweet things that reminds me of our dad, and then I want both parents to be able to see. Dad’s been gone longer, and it takes different things to make me want to show him things. More often it’s artistic or light (the sunset, the sunrise, the way light is breaking through clouds and bouncing back off water to bounce again like a giant soft fill) or just landscaping. Sometimes I draw something well enough I just wish I could share.
Or there’s a movie I want them to see. Or a musical taking the world by storm. Or a game. Or any number of things really. Sometimes I just want to ask “Hey, how did you make this dish” or “You know, I think Sister would love to touch base with you about something, but she’s probably been too busy to call” or “come visit! I want you to meet my sweetheart so much”.
Mom’s birthday is tomorrow. She would have been 70. A grandmother of 3 smart and beautiful kiddos. There are new fur-babies in our lives and we’ve lost some she knew and cared about. I’ve gotten re-married; and she would be so pleased, relieved and content to know that. At least she got to know him. We’re looking at buying a house, before the year is up. She’d be so happy we’ve been able to save. She’d be happy knowing that she’s helped make that possible. She’d be totally clueless about my work, and she’d find it completely hilarious (as do I) that I mostly work in accounting when I detest math in general as annoying and nonsensical. She’d be happy that my sweetie’s work situation has gone back to a field he prefers and that he’s doing well in it.
There would be things she’d worry about, because of course she’d worry. She’s a mom. Same for dad.
For now, I’m going to focus on hoping she’s somehow aware of the good things coming up and happening. Happy birthday, a little early, mom. I love you.
Cryptic dream in which dad called but couldn’t talk long. Wanted to talk to me and A. Gave password to reach him on old muck room online. Said mom had got him from airport and all the animals were rambunctious and happy because he/they was/were home. A and I kept getting trapped by library patrons on wild goose chase. Very frustrated upon waking. Headache. Fed cats took Advil trying for sleep again.
These sorts of dreams happen a lot lately. Recording because almost coherent. Miss them.
Sometimes, I catch myself in an inherited emotional conflict. The biggest one is the Lack of Contact with Specific Relatives conflict.
My parents both came from moderate to largish sized families, depending on who you ask. I mean, my dad’s dad had something like 13 kids in the family. Dad’s immediate family consisted of 4 boys, 2 adopted girls, and a small quantity of foster kids (of which I only ever met one). Mom’s family was split between extremely tiny (her mom was an only child with many maiden aunts) and average to large for the time (I think there were 4 kids on my grandfather’s family, but he somehow got “disowned”, although even that is up for debate). Mom’s own immediate family consisted of 4 girls.
My immediate family consists of 4 girls (and a half-sister we knew existed but who had been withdrawn by her mother so we weren’t allowed to meet her until I was well into my 20s and she in her 30s).
We did the usual kid things. We’d write grandparents cards for birthdays, and thank you cards for gifts/money we might get at holidays or our birthdays, but rarely saw them. I have specific memories of certain relatives, and gaping memory-holes of others. (I apparently drove across several states with my youngest aunt on my mom’s side and thoroughly grossed her out by shoving half-eaten carrots in my mom’s mouth. I was definitely either a baby or a toddler. I have no memory of this or being a dress-up baby for my adopted aunts that are barely a decade older than me. I have previously mentioned how I met my grandfather at about age 3 and remember it very specifically.)
We didn’t live near any of our relatives. They all lived at least 2 or more states away, and we lived in Texas (albeit the top northeast corner of Texas, only a couple of hours from 3 neighboring states). And most of our relatives didn’t drive through Texas really, although some would occasionally fly through. In any case, sometimes, mom and dad would make an effort and we’d go see his side of the family, usually in Ohio or Kentucky. For a time, Kentucky was easier. It was infinitesimally closer, and my grandmother and grandfather both lived there. Even after they divorced, they were near enough to each other. I remember one Christmas trip where probably, the road conditions were very scary. We pulled over at a truck stop (one of the sorts with all-night diners that have amazing smelling coffee and pie) so that daddy could chat up the truck drivers for news on the roads. Another trip, when I was older (probably in high school), we went to Ohio. That was a very big reunion, but mostly I remember it as an excuse to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday – July 5th.
The bit where it’s an inherited emotional conflict is – that side of the family didn’t reciprocate visits, really. One of the uncles would. He adored my dad and genuinely loved my mom, and if he was traveling through Texas for any reason, he’d manage to stop for at least one or two nights and visit. Dad’s family didn’t write, in general, and they rarely called. It hurt mom a lot. When I’m being logical about it, and remember that in reality, I’m not sure I care as it doesn’t affect me on a daily basis, I suspect they just assumed we knew that we were invited. We’re family. Of course we must know that there are reunions, and we should come!
Mom’s position was that we couldn’t always afford to travel. And that dad was often working. And that it would be nice if, on occasion, they came to see us. Especially if they were in state. Once, they found out later than an uncle and his family had been just an hour or two away, and hadn’t told us until long after the fact. Dad was terribly hurt, and for mom it was the last straw – she said. Mostly, it just made her angry and bitter and judgmental of their choices.
The odd thing is, she didn’t really get that way about her own sisters. Perhaps it was because one pretty much stayed in her home state with their kids. And another was often too busy working to keep her kids fed/clothed. And the third, well, the third DID visit, when she drove through occasionally. We had a family reunion with them too, which mom enjoyed (and surprised herself doing so, because it was camping of a sort, and mom hated the outdoors).
I don’t really know why it affected her so much. The few times I tried to gently ask she would just get so upset about how much they hurt my dad with their choices that I’d often drop the subject. But I catch myself being angry with them on her behalf, when I see them post things that I know would bother her. Most times, I can shake my head and sort of shiver off the feelings. But sometimes I’m so tired, and I wish the people could see how casual thoughtless things said can hurt and exclude. It’s hard not to accept the baggage as my own, in those moments.
Mom used to like to tell this story of when I was about 7 years old (I know, because she always emphasized I was in 2nd grade) having a critical discussion and breakdown of Huckleberry Finn with one of dad’s colleagues. I think she was overstating it, and called her on it once, so she went into more detail.
We kept a bookshelf of what would now be called “young adult” and children’s literature in the hallway that lead to all of the bedrooms in the house I grew up in. We were allowed to pick up and leaf through pretty much anything (although mom tended to remind us to be careful with reference books and religious books, which I mostly leafed through because of the way they smelled), but that shelf was ours, and we could pull and replace without checking to make sure mom and dad didn’t want to read the thing we wanted. (General practice for other shelves in the house.)
I had apparently been working through a section that I thought of as classics. I probably had heard mom call them that. They included Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Hans Brinker, the entire Narnia series, and several others (I want to say the Peppers were in there, but I can’t recall just now). Some of them had matching bindings, and had been given to us by a nice lady across the street who had actual tea in tea cups in the afternoons. Some of them were library resells (that mom probably got for a few cents) and some of them were older and probably mom had owned them or bought them when we were babies because she remembered liking them.
Dad’s colleague was over because either he was visiting, or had been supposed to meet dad for lunch and he was late. It’s hard to tell, and mom never explained, but he noticed I was curled up in an armchair reading Huck Finn and asked mom if she was sure it was appropriate for my age. She remembered laughing and waving him off, noting that I probably wasn’t really grasping it all. So he asked if he could talk to me about it over lunch, when she called me in.
I don’t remember the specific discussion. I remember talking to him. I remember he was Dr Wilson at daddy’s work, but we were allowed to call him Mr Wilson at home, and they called him Nathan. We talked to lots of dad’s fellow professors and students and didn’t really think much about it on a day to day basis. Some were nice and could be coaxed into playing with us, and some were less nice and just interested in cards, or talking about work, or other boring grown-up things. Nathan was sort of a balance between the two.
Apparently, he asked some basic questions – how far was I into the book (about halfway), what did I think of Huck (he gets into trouble a lot) and Jim (he worries a lot, but that makes sense) and so on. According to my mother, it started getting much more specific and detailed and I carried on an intelligent discussion of the book. And she realized that not only was I aware of the racism, but that I was straddling the line between Huck and Jim in that I realized it was “life” as they saw it and thus “normal” to them, but I also thought it was stupid, and what the heck was that about? According to her, by the end of lunch, she felt she’d witnessed a college level (she often said graduate, at which point I’d glare at her, and she’d point out “Nathan taught master’s level classes!”) dissection of the book. …And perhaps she ought to pay more attention to what I was reading.
I still think she exaggerated. On the other hand, my reading comprehension was good enough that I rarely read the book again completely except for fun. I’d have it in high school and college level classes and rarely bother reading it for the class, just write papers by memory with occasional flipping of pages until I found the bit I wanted to quote so that I could accurately. I still own my college copy, actually, and have read it since although not in a long time.
I think that the freedom to read whatever I wanted is a large part of why I absorb the written word more easily than the heard word, and probably why I can read relatively quickly. I have had a lot of practice. We read everything from Mother Goose to Seuss to the above listed books and occasionally would pull out dad’s reference books on theater, or art, or read through the inserts in the large LP records. We weren’t terribly consistent perhaps, but having that access at an early age (and a mother who was very willing to drag us to the library over the summer breaks) was wonderful.