Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So Creative

My brother, my sister and I spent much of last Friday taking photographs of Deb's crafts projects for a freelance assignment. For each, we consulted about props and angles and lighting. Jeff handled the camera, I managed bounce cards and lighting, and Deb wrangled props.

At one point, Jeff was prone on the cement pool deck while Deb stood to the side, guiding a prop into place with a long handled pool brush.

In an email afterward, Jeff's wife said that the three of us are "so creative."

She meant it kindly, but I seriously could not count the number of times we've been described with those words, usually in a way that implies some sort of magic.

The truth is, creativity is one part inspiration and nine parts hard work. One part fun and nine parts monotony. The outside world sometimes sees the inspiration and often the end result, but few are present for the tedious hours between.

Debbie created a series of whimsical creatures made from plastic bottles--hand soap and dish soap and orange juice. For each, she conceived an idea, tried and failed, tried again until she succeeded. For each, she painted and putzed, cut and folded, glued and stuck. She burned herself with hot glue, cut herself with x-acto knives, and got paint all over.

The finished projects look both inspired and so simple anyone with a plastic bottle, a pair of scissors and a glue gun could make them. Her creativity is on full display, but few people will recognize the sheer effort required to put it there.

Maybe that's the point. Maybe THAT's the magic.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Here, There and Everywhere





Right now, I'm "home" in Missouri. Tomorrow I will go "back" to California. Walking the streets of my neighborhood next week, I'll be happy to be "there" but at the moment I can hardly stand to leave "here."

I like California, but I love my family. My job is there. They are here.

I am everywhere. And nowhere at all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I See You

Biking to work is one of the great joys of my days here in LA. When I have time, I linger over coffee at a neighborhood Peets on the way. This morning a little girl and her mother were sitting at the next table, the mother absorbed in her iPhone. The little girl said, "Mommy, look at this," but the mother did not glance up. The child continued to ask her mother to look every three or four seconds, escalating in volume over several minutes. The little girl finally resorted to shrieking, but the mother's eyes and attention remained riveted to the phone.

I fled.

A few more blocks into the ride, I slowed when a parked car seemed poised to pull into traffic. The driver rolled down her window and motioned to me to ride on. "You're all right," she said. "I see you."

The woman's reassurance stayed with me all morning. So did the little girl's shrieks.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Half a Life

The voice has been whispering to me lately. I see something especially lovely, and a description arises unbidden. Joy and sadness narrate their marches through my psyche. As I bike to work, the voice edits passages I have not written.

After a weekend surrounded by creativity at Maker Faire, I read Half a Life by Darin Strauss last night, and here I finally am, on this page, hands on keyboard, not sure where to begin.

Let's start here: if you love memoir, if you love language, if you love the courage required to face deep truth, read Half a Life. Strauss' writing transcends the tragedy of the story, drives it all the way to quiet hope.