Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I forswore sarcasm in college once I realized it was seriously hindering my development as a person. Is it permissible, though, if used only as a literary device?


I miss it so.

Monday, March 26, 2007

We Gots the Crud

Their dad had his turn last week, and now the boys have followed. There's no joy like tending to the runny noses of those who don't know how to blow them. It has its upside though--Willem has added the word "tissue" to his vocabulary.

Fortunately for us, Nels enjoys the drama and novelty of being sick. Throwing up falls somewhere behind construction equipment and ahead of birthdays as favorite conversation fodder. I once found him in the hallway singing a song to himself about a meal he'd lost at his grandparents' house the previous week: "lots of carrots and some chicken..."

So of course it was an event when he realized he was sick today. "Mommy, my voice is wrong." But it came out "Bobby, by boice is wrog." Completely taken with the sound of his congestion, he attempted to manufacture more conversation so he could continue talking and listening to himself. "Bobby, I don't have to be afraid of bonsters. Or robots." It went on.

Here's to a speedy recovery to our sweet little sneezers.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Artist Envy

I will share a fault of mine with you. After all, what more appropriate forum could there be for personal examination and introspection than this here blog?

I have artist envy. And artisan envy, for that matter. If you can create something beautiful or compelling or interesting or useful, well, then, I wish I were you. I don't discriminate, either. I do believe I would find it equally fulfilling to make a great song, novel, painting, photo, poem, chair, movie, building, meal, or window display.

I do confess that I have a soft spot for visual art that can be hung on a wall. Producing something that I'd want to decorate my house with I imagine as the be-all and end-all of creative satisfaction.

Of course I can't ignore the fact that the transcendence of great literature was a life raft for me when I was younger, and without it I'd probably be twice as nuts as I am today. So writing a great novel or short story would be particularly gratifying as well.

Then there's the joyous buoyancy of a perfect pop song. When I see my 17 month-old son start to shimmy his shoulders in response to a great song, I can't help but think, man, whoever wrote this song has a direct line to the hardwiring of the soul, and wouldn't it be amazing if I could do that?

So, to all of you out there who make stuff, thanks for all you add to this life and for pointing us to the next. While you're out there creating, I'll be hanging your work on my walls.

Community Education

I went back to high school! Well, not exactly. I was looking for a creative outlet (translation: a regularly scheduled evening activity where it would be completely inappropriate to bring children along) so I signed up for a creative writing class through the Boise School District. We don't even have a community college here, so the classes are held at local high schools.

I was hoping to make a friend, but the field narrowed very very quickly. We started with a full classroom, but on the day our first "assignment" (a short story rough draft) was due, only half the class showed up. That was our third class session. Now we have one week remaining and only seven students, one of whom is the teacher's mother.

After studying short stories, we moved on to poetry. I am particularly enamoured of the pantoum. This is a form I don't remember learning about when I last studied poetic forms in 6th grade. I DO, to my shame, recall writing a ballad explaining the origin of the stars --something to do with a winged unicorn and a mid-air collision. Any student poem worth its salt will employ a sophisticated rhyming scheme, of course. Mine utilized the rhymed pair "sight" and "dynamite." But I digress.

In a pantoum the stanzas have four lines. The second and fourth lines of the first stanza are reapeated as the first and third lines of the second stanza. The final stanza is a little different and ends with the first line. So, in a five stanza poem, the lines would take this order:

1 2 3 4
2 5 4 6
5 7 6 8
7 9 8 10
9 3 10 1

I am posting here the pantoum I wrote for class in solidarity with all those mothers and fathers out there who have ever tried to feed a toddler.

Pantoum for Nels

Why won't you eat your food?
I fixed it especially for you.
It's a meal I thought you'd love,
but you refuse it.

I fixed it especially for you;
PB & J with apple slices.
But you refuse it and
it sits untouched on your plate.

PB& J with apple slices is
a perfectly good lunch,
yet still you have not touched it.
Must I lift the sandwich to your mouth?

It's a perfectly good lunch,
but you're just staring at it.
Why must I lift the sandwich to your mouth?
I know you're hungry.

You're just staring at it,
this meal I thought you'd love.
I know you're hungry.
Why won't you eat your food?

So, that's the idea. Now you try. It's fun!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can One Die of Crabbiness?

The fact that I am extremely crabby and yet I live answers my question in the negative. But when 3:00pm rolls around and one child is running laps around the house emitting noises that would annoy the very devil himself and the other has rendered me immobile by wrapping himself around my legs, I can believe it could happen.

Twenty years from now they'll say of my eldest, "Nice enough young fellow; shows a lot of promise...too bad about the tragedy from his childhood, though. I don't think he ever quite got over having annoyed his mother to death."